Crystal is a microfinance institution in Georgia with a mission to defeat poverty by creating entrepreneurial opportunity in Georgia’s agricultural, micro and small business sectors. Since 1998, Crystal has grown from a small business development project founded by a group of internally displaced persons (IDPs), to the largest microfinance institution in Georgia employing 1,000 Georgians and delivering responsible financial services to over 100,000 customers. Today, Crystal’s customer-focused and innovative financial services reach almost every corner of Georgia, with the families of Crystal’s clients making up over 10% of Georgia’s population.
MicroVest first invested in Crystal in 2010 when the company’s loan portfolio was just $5 million. Since then, MicroVest has provided approximately $20 million in loans to Crystal to support the company’s financial inclusion agenda and expansion across Georgia. As of June 2020, Crystal’s loan portfolio is approximately $99 million.
Crystal has a strong social mission embedded into all aspects of its business model and strives to equally address the needs of its stakeholders, the planet, and the financial soundness of its customers. Crystal serves a population of financially excluded people and businesses with transparent and responsible financial products. Recent Smart Campaign certification (2017) and A- Social Rating from MicroFinanza (2019) are a testament to Crystal’s commitment to treat its clients fairly. Crystal maintains an independent ESG department headed by a UN Global Compact Social Pioneer winner. The department’s primary responsibility is to integrate ESG frameworks across Crystal’s business – including programs like Yes Georgia, a USAID-funded training program for young women entrepreneurs. The company also launched a green financing initiative in 2017 to raise widespread public awareness of green products and low carbon alternatives, including the use of eco-friendly building materials and electric and hybrid cars. Beyond Crystal’s business operations, the company works with its charitable subsidiary, the Crystal Fund, to implement innovative projects that help women access financing, training and support. In recognition of its social focus, Crystal has been honored with several social awards, including winning the “Corporate Social Responsibility” award provided by the UN Global Compact Network and the Women Empowerment award provided by UN Women Georgia.
Adjusting to COVID-19
Crystal was the first non-banking financial institution to engage in a three-month moratorium program with commercial banks. The program, which was applied to more than 80% of end borrowers, allowed them to suspend interest and principal payments from March to the end of June,
providing a buffer to help clients recover from the pandemic and prepare for the summer season, which corresponds to the busiest time for the agriculture sector. As Crystal’s portfolio is diversified among various regions and sectors, the impact of COVID-19 was relatively mitigated compared to local market players. The willingness of their end borrowers to maintain and honor their payments reflects the value of services provided.
Looking ahead, Crystal expects consumer/household and business lending growth to stabilize and they remain committed to helping their customers be more competitive so that they can emerge out of the pandemic stronger, and help their local community rebuild sustainably.
All figures are based on self-reported data by Crystal Georgia as of
6/30/2020. The RFI profiled here is for educational purposes only and may not represent all of the portfolio holdings. It should not be assumed that investments in the RFI identified and discussed were or will be profitable. The RFIs profiled were selected based on their financial inclusion and impact with no reference to amount of profits or losses, realized or unrealized.