In October 2022, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved the Building Resilience with Active Countercyclical Expenditures (BRACE) Program to help the Government of Tajikistan expand social assistance for poor and vulnerable people, support domestic food production, safeguard small businesses, and support the employment of returning migrants. These areas were expected to be negatively impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 A story by ADB notes that Saidali Ravshanzoda, 58, a high school teacher in Hisor district, is one 600 small and medium-sized farmers, including more than 200 women, who received concessional loans through a component of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s BRACE program.  One of the program’s components provided concessional loans to small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in agriculture, services, and trade sectors through two state-owned banks.

Saidali Ravshanzoda is now focused on his family farm.  They grow rice, wheat, corn, and cherries for sale in local markets.

The farm is the main source of livelihood for Saidali, his five children — one of whom is a returning migrant — and 15 grandchildren.  The farm also provides seasonal jobs for over 40 rural women who help the family during harvest.

In February 2023, Saidali reportedly heard on local TV that concessional loans were being offered by Amonatbank (Tajikistan’s state savings bank).  He immediately went to the bank and took a loan at 10% interest rate for three years in the national currency, the somoni.  He spent the loan to buy 58 sacks of fertilizers and to fence his field.  According to him, he used to get 130-150 sacks of rice from his farm in the past, but this year, he has harvested 400 sacks of rice.

Mahbouba Ochildiyeva .

Together with her four children and 12 grandchildren, 58-year-old Mahbouba Ochildiyeva, grows tomatoes, cucumbers, wheat, and other crops for their own consumption and for sale in the market.

In April 2023, she received a text message from a local branch of Amonatbonk about loans at 10% interest rate.  Mahbouba took a loan to buy fertilizers.  It was her first time to borrow from a bank, as interest rates are normally very high.  “The money has helped us to get a better yield,” said Mahbouba.

Hikmatullo Sharifov

Hikmatullo Sharifov, 56, got a concessional loan in January 2023.  He grows onions, wheat, and clover.  The loan allowed him to buy seeds and fertilizers and pay for labor to prepare his fields for planting and harvesting.  “In Tajikistan, we are blessed with water and sun.  We have land and our people are hardworking,” shared Hikmatullo.  “The only missing part is cheap money. We need banks that provide affordable loans to people.  The support we’ve got this year is very good, and I wish it would continue.”

More than 60% of the labor force in Tajikistan works in the agricultural sector.  The BRACE program made 100 million somonis of affordable finance available in 2022 and 2023 for Tajikistan’s small businesses, the majority of which are food producers.

The BRACE program supports the implementation of the government's countercyclical measures, targeting the poor and vulnerable while meeting financing needs.  

The program is aligned with the overarching development objective: social inclusion promoted by strengthening the support to poor and vulnerable groups, and economic resilience improved.

The effect of the program will be: adverse socioeconomic effects of the shocks mitigated, and resilience of poor and vulnerable groups enhanced.