Press Releases

IFC’s First Southern Cone Microfinance Investment to Support Small Businesses in Paraguay

In Washington, D.C.:
Lotte Pang, IFC                                                

Phone: (202)758-4290


In Peru:

Clara Ugarte, IFC

Phone: + 51-1-611-2521


Washington D.C., August 18, 2009—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced its first microfinance investment in Latin America’s Southern Cone, a $1.2 million equity investment in Paraguay’s Financiera El Comercio to help reduce the impact of the financial crisis by supporting lending to microenterprises.

El Comercio, the largest finance company in Paraguay, provides financial services predominantly to micro, small, and medium enterprises, particularly in the agricultural sector. It also specializes in  consumer and home improvement loans. The company serves more than 73,000 customers through a network of 46 branches, 36 of which are located in rural areas. IFC’s investment will strengthen El Comercio’s capital base and help it expand its lending to underserved segments of the rural population.

“We are pleased to begin a relationship with IFC and welcome this investment, which represents a vote of confidence in El Comercio,” said Carlos Heisecke, President of El Comercio. “The financing will further strengthen El Comercio and allow it to continue expanding access to finance throughout Paraguay. We also welcome the valuable knowledge and global experience IFC will contribute to our organization as we work together.”

Enrique Cañas, IFC Country Manager, Southern Cone and Bolivia, said, “This first microfinance transaction by IFC in the Southern Cone is an indication of IFC’s commitment to the development of the Paraguayan financial system. Microfinance institutions such as El Comercio have a significant role to play in ensuring continued lending to people in rural areas and to reducing the impact of the financial crisis.”

The countries in Latin America’s Southern Cone are Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit

About Financiera El Comercio
Financiera El Comercio was founded in 1976 and began focusing its business in rural areas and microfinance after its merger with EFISA Financiera in December 1999. El Comercio is the largest finance institution in Paraguay and has an extensive network of 46 branches, of which 36 are located in rural areas outside the capital city of Asunción. For more information, visit