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IDB partners with Atlantic Bank to promote small businesses including tourism

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Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2020. 10:34 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) have taken terrible hits during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the economy sputtering to a virtual halt.

To get them going again, one of Belize’s largest banks is partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to jumpstart its portfolio.

IDB Invest, a subsection of the IDB Group will loan Atlantic Bank Limited US $20 million for three years to promote the growth of Atlantic’s portfolio in Belize including tourism, a sector deeply affected by COVID-19.

Atlantic aims to increase access to finance for MSMEs in Belize, especially those in the tourism sector, by supporting the growth of Atlantic Bank’s MSME loan portfolio. The sector generates more than 70 percent of Belize’s private sector employment, income and economic growth but has long been hampered by difficulty accessing finance through the banking system.

Atlantic Bank will formalize and update its environmental and social management (E&S) system, making it consistent with the performance standards of international financial corporations. A staff member will be delegated to supervise and manage this process, ensuring that all sub-loans comply with the standards required by IDB Invest and applicable local laws, and formalizing its internal claim mechanism.

Atlantic Bank has already introduced a state-of-the-art real-time electronic payment platform to support the development of the Tourism and MSME sectors and address their real needs. More recently, during the COVID-19 crisis, Atlantic Bank also improved its financing conditions to tourism SMEs, encouraging them to transform into COVID-friendly business models by being certified as Gold Standard according to the Tourism Gold Standard Recognition Program of the Belize Tourism Board.

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