Responding to COVID-19

COVID-19 suddenly changed our world in 2020. In the last year of our five-year start-up period, we entered a phase of accelerated evolution out of necessity. We adapted and became more resilient, adjusting operations and working methods. We became more responsive, assisting our members and clients in times of immediate need. We maximized the use of technology. More importantly, we partnered even more with the global community.

Creating Our COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility

Related Topics

About Our COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility

To help our members deal with the economic, financial and public health pressures arising from COVID-19, we created the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility (Facility). It started operating in April 2020 and will continue to do so until Oct. 16, 2021. By then, it will have offered up to USD13 billion in financing to public and private sector entities in any AIIB member facing, or at risk of facing, serious adverse impacts as a result of COVID-19.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, we had approved a total of 27 Facility projects amounting to USD7.07 billion to help 19 members navigate the challenges of these highly uncertain times.

Since the launch of the Facility, demand has been increasing from AIIB members for Facility financing, resulting in an increasing share of Facility projects in AIIB’s rolling investment program. When considering Facility financings, Management looks at our members’ requests, the merits of the financing proposal, our credit and member exposure, cofinancing opportunities and our capacity. The objective is to achieve balance between members, considering the indicative size of Facility financing requests, members’ needs, and quality of financing requests and other available financing resources. Consideration has been given to the overall size of the Facility and to complementarity, including member limits of other multilateral development banks.

Our operations will always be consistent with our primary purpose as set out in Article 1.1 of our Articles of Agreement: “(i) foster sustainable economic development, create wealth and improve infrastructure connectivity in Asia by investing in infrastructure and other productive sectors; and (ii) promote regional cooperation and partnership in addressing development challenges by working in close collaboration with other multilateral and bilateral development institutions.”

While significant uncertainties remain over the depth and length of the COVID-19 crisis, opportunities exist for a more sustainable economic recovery. Infrastructure spending is a promising pathway for creating jobs and supporting long-term growth through the maintenance and construction of greener and more inclusive infrastructure. While the COVID-19 crisis presents challenges and constraints and requires more vigilance in certain areas (for example, in maintaining high project standards), it also presents opportunities to pursue certain objectives that we have enshrined in our Corporate Strategy (for example, supporting private sector, spending on green and technology-enabled infrastructure as part of members’ economic recovery strategies, extending financing to more members).

Special Fund Window

As the COVID-19 pandemic has become more globally widespread and severe, lower-income countries have become particularly vulnerable. AIIB established the Special Fund Window under the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility to provide interest rate buy-down for eligible sovereign-backed financing for lower-income members.

By December 2020, the Special Fund Window had supported four projects, in Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Maldives, totaling USD217.3 million.

Serving Client Needs

COVID-19 caused a global health and humanitarian crisis and widespread economic disruption. In addition to the direct impact on health and healthcare services, the loss of inbound tourism and trade and supply chain and financial market disruptions exacted a significant economic toll. Developing economies especially require support from the international financial community, especially if they have weak healthcare infrastructure and systems, weak macroeconomic and financial sector fundamentals and high dependence on tourism, oil exports and/or remittances.

As the crisis evolved, the needs and demands of AIIB’s members and clients rapidly changed. AIIB responded quickly and was proactively adaptive in the emergency. We temporarily scaled back in areas where demand had reduced and scaled up in areas—within AIIB’s mandate—where members and clients needed more support. We mobilized support beyond our usual ability and financing modalities. Since the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility (Facility) is intended to be flexible and adaptive to emerging demands, processing of financings was streamlined. While our operational focus remained the same, we had to be agile and flexible. The Facility enabled us to provide emergency financing beyond our usual operations to meet client needs.

We designed the Facility to support the needs of our members in the following areas:

  • Public health financings to help our members respond to the immediate threats posed by COVID-19. Our support helped members purchase medical equipment, strengthen their capacity for virus detection, testing and monitoring and improve their communications strategy to contain the spread of the virus. Some projects helped prepare national health systems for pandemics in the longer term.
  • Intermediary financings to alleviate liquidity constraints and provide working capital support for a range of companies in infrastructure and other productive sectors that are affected by the pandemic and essential to sustain the economy. Beneficiaries range from large corporates to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises and, in some cases, women-led businesses. Each project caters to the liquidity needs of a specific economy and client, either directly or through financial intermediaries.
  • Financings to strengthen economic resilience and to support policy that allowed us to go far beyond our core operations to provide fast-disbursed budgetary support. We provided supplemental funding to governments to support their social and economic response and recovery measures, including social protection and economic assistance for low-income households, fiscal policies, protection of jobs and key industries (exports, services, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) and sector reforms (including in infrastructure and private sector development).

Strengthening Partnerships, Building Relationships and Developing Capacity

By being proactive and responsive during the crisis, we continue to strengthen our investment operations and institutional capacity by building and maintaining client relationships. We will deepen and broaden our financing capabilities and learning from peer experiences, particularly given the intensified coordination and collaboration efforts among the international financial institutions and multilateral development banks.

Through the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility (Facility), we are a collaborative partner in the multilateral development bank community and play a countercyclical role in responding to a global crisis. We work closely with peer multilateral development banks and relevant agencies, including the United Nations, at all levels of the COVID-19 response.

We broadened our client outreach and built relationships. Through the Facility, we can serve a broader range of members and establish new working relationships, such as with first-time borrowers, AIIB members that are eligible for International Development Association support, nonregional members and new private sector contacts (financial institutions and companies).

The Facility enables us to develop new expertise and build internal knowledge, tools and procedures to better serve public and private clients. Our engagement in the health sector allows us to learn and acquire skills that will be helpful as we broaden our investment in health infrastructure in line with our Corporate Strategy.

COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility Projects

Public Health
As of Dec. 31, 2020, we had approved eight public health projects under the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility in eight members—Bangladesh, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Türkiye and Uzbekistan—for a total approved financing (loans and investments) of USD1.50 billion.

Projects under this category supported emergency public health responses, including developing the capacity of the health system, providing essential medical equipment and supplies to combat COVID-19 and assisting the long-term sustainable development of the health sector.

Related Topics

Beijing and Chongqing: Race against COVID-19 in China’s Megacities


Georgia: Health-care Infrastructure and Social Protection Measures for COVID-19 Response

  • Our first emergency assistance loan was USD355 million for China to help Beijing and Chongqing upgrade their public health infrastructure, system and emergency response during the early days of the pandemic. Activities included upgrading each municipality’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reinforcing the treatment capacity of their medical institutions to deal with epidemic emergencies and providing emergency equipment and supplies to frontline public health workers to help contain the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • In Indonesia and in partnership with the World Bank, we provided USD250 million to help ensure that designated COVID-19 referral hospitals were fully equipped to manage and treat the increase in severe respiratory illness and critical-care patients. The funds helped strengthen the laboratory network and surveillance system to augment testing and contact tracing.
  • In India and in partnership with the World Bank, we provided USD500 million to help the government deliver a combination of emergency response and health system capacity building, which included scaling up interventions to limit human-to-human transmission.
  • In Georgia and in partnership with the World Bank, we provided USD100 million to help implement the national emergency COVID-19 response by providing essential medical equipment and supplies, among other measures.
  • In Maldives and in partnership with the World Bank, we provided USD7.3 million to help procure essential protective equipment and other essential items to protect healthcare workers and patients. The funds helped implement campaigns for risk communication, community engagement and behavior change, including social distancing measures and associated mitigation strategies.
Public Health
  • In Uzbekistan and in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, we provided USD100 million to help upgrade national laboratories, develop surveillance systems and build case management capacity.
  • In Bangladesh and in partnership with the World Bank, we provided USD100 million to help the government ramp up its testing, tracing and treatment capacity and improve the longer-term pandemic preparedness of Bangladesh.
  • In Türkiye and in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, we provided USD82.6 million to help supply hospitals with critical hospital equipment.
Intermediary Financings to Alleviate Liquidity Constraints
As of Dec. 31, 2020, we had approved seven intermediary financings to alleviate liquidity constraints under the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility in six members—two in Türkiye and one each in Ecuador, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam—for a total approved financing (loans and investments) of USD1.30 billion.

Projects under this category supported key infrastructure companies and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which are essential to the economy and are struggling to survive. COVID-19 has made it increasingly difficult for these firms to meet their operational needs and expenses (such as payroll, supplies, rent and utilities) and to procure the goods and services needed to maintain their productive capacity, retain jobs or provide key infrastructure services. MSMEs are crucial in providing jobs and livelihoods. In many AIIB members, MSMEs create the most jobs and many companies use the general liquidity financing for payroll.

AIIB worked with local banks and financing institutions by extending credit lines and loans to enable them to on-lend the proceeds to their clients, including MSMEs. Many of these firms serve the infrastructure sector or are involved in the export industry. By supporting MSMEs, we supported infrastructure companies so they could continue to provide critical infrastructure services. We supported key industrial segments that have been hit by COVID-19. In some members, the segments we supported were tourism and services, in others agriculture, manufacturing or exports.

  • In Türkiye, we extended credit lines for a total of USD500 million to two of Türkiye’s development banks and existing AIIB clients: Türkiye Sınai Kalkınma Bankası and Türkiye Kalkınma ve Yatırım Bankası. The support allowed them to on-lend the proceeds to infrastructure-related companies, mid-capitalization firms and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) serving the transport, energy, water, sustainable cities (including health care), information and communication technology and other productive sectors.

Related Topics

Viet Nam: VPBank’s Journey with Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises during COVID-19

  • In Viet Nam and in partnership with the International Finance Corporation, we provided a USD100-million loan to the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank to expand its working capital and continue its trade-related lending program to private sector enterprises, including SMEs impacted by COVID-19.
  • In the Kyrgyz Republic and in partnership with the World Bank, our USD50-million support was in the form of reimbursable financial assistance to MSMEs. It enabled small businesses to continue paying their rent, utilities, payroll and suppliers and to operate during the pandemic.
  • In Russia, we provided a USD300-million loan to Russian Railways (RDZ) to bolster its efforts to preserve jobs and working conditions and ensure continuous operations. RDZ owns and operates Russia’s integrated national passenger and freight railway network and is the largest commercial employer in Russia.
Intermediary Financings to Alleviate Liquidity Constraints
  • In Türkiye, we worked with Akbank to provide a USD100-million loan to support its clients’ working capital shortages and relieve liquidity pressures caused by the pandemic.
  • In Uzbekistan, we extended a USD200-million credit line to the National Bank of Uzbekistan to support SMEs operating in infrastructure and other productive sectors.
  • In Ecuador and in partnership with the World Bank, we provided a USD50-million loan to the country’s largest public bank, Corporación Financiera Nacional B.P. (CFN), to loosen liquidity constraints facing MSMEs. The loan is AIIB’s first financing in Latin America.
Economic Resilience
As of Dec. 31, 2020, we had approved 12 economic resilience projects under the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility in 11 members—two in Pakistan and one each in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and the Philippines—for a total approved financing (loans and investments) of USD4.28 billion.

Many economies are expected to divert their attention and resources from longer-term investments (including infrastructure) to short-term crisis management. While many advanced economies have taken bold fiscal and monetary policy actions, developing economies generally do not have the fiscal or market space for a similar scale of response. In addition to having lower debt sustainability thresholds than developed economies, several developing economies face a combination of high debt and currency or balance of payment pressures, which further limit their fiscal and monetary policy responses. Without adequate policy responses and additional financing, developing economies—particularly those with lower debt capacities—will likely suffer from disproportionately greater social and economic damage caused by the pandemic. An international response is urgently needed to prevent the public health and/or income shocks from amplifying into a long-lasting, systemic shock in developing economies.

The AIIB assistance to the 11 members went to programs that promote social protection and economic resilience to prevent long-term damage to productive capacity (including human capital), and to help our members pursue economic recovery and provide social safety nets for vulnerable groups. AIIB took a flexible approach to support policy-based lending by peer institutions during the crisis, but as an exceptional measure and not the model it will follow in the longer term.

Economic Resilience
  • In Indonesia and in partnership with ADB, we provided USD750 million to bolster economic aid for businesses (including small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs]), support poor and vulnerable households and strengthen health-care systems.
  • In Bangladesh and in partnership with ADB, we provided USD250 million to support the government’s fiscal countercyclical expenditure programs to strengthen health-care services, provide direct support for the poor and vulnerable groups and help businesses protect jobs.
  • In the Philippines and in partnership with ADB, we provided USD750 million to help increase testing capacity. The assistance extended to social protection and livelihood support to vulnerable households in the form of conditional cash transfers and emergency subsidy support, wage subsidies for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and economic stimulus to highly affected and vulnerable sectors, including agriculture.
  • In India and in partnership with ADB, we provided USD750 million to help the government implement COVID-19 response and health system measures, provide social assistance to vulnerable groups (to help compensate for economic losses) and provide stronger social safety measures for affected workers in organized and informal sectors.
  • In Mongolia and in partnership with ADB, we provided USD100 million to help the government implement its Countercyclical Development Expenditure Program, which consists of three packages: (1) support to public health protection, (2) social protection to support citizens and businesses and (3) support to vulnerable businesses and fiscal stimulus measures.
  • In Kazakhstan and in partnership with ADB, we provided USD750 million to cover the government’s immediate COVID-19 health policy response, social protection and employment recovery measures and economic stimulus measures. The program includes cash payments to the unemployed, measures to mitigate the impact of higher food prices such as lowering of the value-added tax rate, a food distribution program, price caps on essential food items to support vulnerable groups, tax incentives and increases in all social payments.
  • In Georgia and in partnership with the World Bank, we provided USD50 million to help the government cover an unanticipated financing gap that arose because of the impact of COVID-19 and to sustain the momentum of the Economic Management and Competitiveness Program reform effort.
  • Our first sovereign-backed financing to Cambodia supported the government’s recovery efforts following the adverse impact of the pandemic on the rural population. About 480,000 people in five provinces will benefit from the USD60-million loan, primarily aimed at assisting women, children and jobless returning migrants in rural areas. Programs include infrastructure work to sustain rural livelihood and trade flows, cash-for-work programs and water sanitation and hygiene preparedness programs.
  • Tourism-dependent economies such as the Cook Islands and Fiji were among those particularly hard hit by the pandemic because of global travel restrictions. We provided USD20 million financing to the Cook Islands—our first project with them—to provide social and economic assistance to mitigate economic disruption and support economic resilience. We provided USD50 million to Fiji to support the government’s efforts to assist the formal sector, including SMEs and their employees, and informal workers, including women microenterpreneurs, such as hawkers. We partnered with ADB for both projects.
  • We implemented two COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility projects in Pakistan. The first is a USD500-million under the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program in partnership with ADB to provide general budgetary support to fill gaps in the government’s development financing in support of health, social safety net and economic stimulus measures. The second is a USD250-million assistance under the Resilient Institutions for Sustainable Economy (RISE) Program in partnership with the World Bank. The program will deliver (1) social protection for the poor and vulnerable, (2) an expanded health sector response to the pandemic and (3) a pro-poor fiscal stimulus package to ensure recovery in growth and employment as part of an integrated government package to mitigate the significant negative health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility Project Data

Approved Projects by Sector

Approved Projects by Financing Type

AIIB Institutional Responses to COVID-19
How We Responded to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic presented two broad challenges to AIIB’s administrative management: (1) protecting the health and safety of Bank staff and their families and (2) increasing travel restrictions that constrained our ability to develop and prepare projects and limited our business development, site visits and in-person and larger-scale stakeholder engagement. Site visits to ongoing projects were put on hold as we halted business travel. Some ongoing projects were delayed because of diverted client counterpart funding to short-term crisis management and lower client capacities because focus shifted to longer-term investments. Some projects were reduced in scope, postponed indefinitely and/or cancelled because of some economies’ weaker capacities to resume infrastructure development.

We provided multipronged support measures to ensure AIIB staff’s health and safety and to alleviate the difficulties of travel restrictions. We also maximized the use of digital and virtual technologies to support our investments (particularly for project preparation and implementation amid travel restrictions), and we increased internal efficiency, which improved our responsiveness to clients.


As early as February 2020, under our first donation program, we imported personal protective equipment and coordinated its distribution to Beijing and Wuhan. AIIB staff pooled personal donations, which were matched by the Bank.

Business Continuity Plan

We set in motion our updated business continuity plan, which was developed under the Bank’s established business continuity framework, enabling us to handle our critical processes without disruption. Despite a significant portion of staff working remotely for an extended period, we continued our business operations and met all significant deadlines.

Temporary Finance Site

In March, we opened a temporary site in Hong Kong, China, where some Finance staff gathered to ensure that they had a secure and stable environment from which to run transactions. Controls and processes were quickly adjusted to deal with the remote working environment, including disbursing loans based on electronic requests, paying salaries to offshore bank accounts, among others.


We maximized the use of virtual technologies to support our investment and internal operations. We further strengthened our information technology infrastructure and systems, including for cybersecurity. The COVID-19 crisis presented us with an opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities as a 21st-century organization that utilizes technology to support investment and internal operations efficiently and effectively, and to accelerate the adoption of methods that support a virtual workplace, client interaction and operations.

Staff Support

Staff Support
Remote work arrangements were in place until staff and their families could safely return to headquarters in Beijing. The Facilities and Administration Services Department, the Human Resources Department and the Office of the Vice President, Corporate Secretary jointly expedited the return to headquarters and onboarding travel of more than 400 AIIB personnel and their dependents from about 100 countries, including about 200 special transit arrangements via Hong Kong, China and about 100 new onboarded staff and their families. Returning staff received assistance to cover the costs of pre-travel COVID-19 tests and the hotel stay during quarantine. While working remotely, staff received one-time financial compensation to help offset the extra costs of their extended stay outside Beijing. Leave arrangements were made more flexible to enable staff to take care of family.


We explored virtual means of maintaining exposure in the job market and attracting talent worldwide, such as online career fairs. In partnership with the Government of Türkiye and LinkedIn, we hosted an online career event, which attracted 446 registrations and 344 attendees. We joined Global Careers for Women 2020 to proactively close the workplace gender gap through online recruitment. We attended the 2020 virtual IFI Career Fair and expanded our advertising and marketing reach through targeted webinars.

Recruitment of qualified staff continued, with all job interviews conducted by video and panel interviews taking place in different countries.