Microfinance in Central Asia is chiefly about lending, though some institutions are taking deposits. It is not easy to do so. Arvand, for example, has just 660 deposit clients. "The population has not developed a culture of savings," says Shoira Sydykova, director at the microfinance lender.
At Bai Tushum, Gulnara Shamshieva, general manager, says deposits are vital and not just for customers. "When we started, we considered this mainly from one side: a cheaper source of funding, but it’s also a product for poor people. It’s one thing to get a loan and use money to develop your business, but one day this loan must be repaid: there has to be something at the end of the cycle, something to save." She says deposits are "one of the ways to reduce poverty" and generate internal sources of funds for the country, but she notes that, these days, they are not a cheap source anyway.