Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Citibank, N.A. Bangladesh has successfully arranged the country’s first ever syndicated agricultural term financing facility of US$21.7 million (BDT 1.5 billion) in Bangladesh.

The five-year local currency facility is to BURO, a microfinance institution, and will support its expansion of micro-lending to the agriculture sector, a joint press statement in the capital, Dhaka on Tuesday.

In addition to Citibank, N.A. Bangladesh, participating lenders include Agrani Bank Limited, Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited, Eastern Bank Limited, Janata Bank Limited, Mutual Trust Bank Limited, Prime Bank Limited, Pubali Bank Limited, Sonali Bank Limited, Southeast Bank Limited, Standard Bank Limited, The City Bank Limited and United Commercial Bank Limited, according to the statement.

“We are happy to provide BURO very important access to long-term, local-currency capital, which will help its programs achieve greater scale. This marks yet another milestone in our partnership with the country’s microfinance sector and underlines Citi’s commitment towards supporting the cause of microfinance globally,” Chief Executive Officer, Citi South Asia Mark T. Robinson said in the statement.

“This first agricultural loan syndication in Bangladesh will support lending to small farmers. Agricultural financing, extended by the microfinance sector, now has another source of funding that links the sector to a wide range of Bangladesh’s banks,” said Robert Annibale, Global Director of Citi Microfinance.

Executive Director of BURO Zakir Hossain said: “The support that we have received from the participating banks is invaluable. The entire facility will be directed towards the agricultural sector through NGO-linking system, and for the participating banks, this will qualify as agricultural sector lending. The local currency solution provided by Citibank N.A. will support expansion of our agricultural micro lending portfolio.”

Established in 1990, BURO Bangladesh serves more than 700,000 customers of which more than 99 percent are women. BURO has presence in 51 districts of Bangladesh through over 400 branches.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-08July09-12:07 am (BST)