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L. Joseph
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MANILA, PHILIPPINES, February 20, 2001 The International Finance Corporation is helping to support micro entrepreneurs in the Philippines through an investment in the country’s microfinance sector.

IFC will invest approximately US$120,000 for 10 percent of the equity of Micro Enterprise Bank of the Philippines (MEP), a microcredit thrift bank that will be established in the Philippines and headquartered in Davao on the island of Mindanao, in the southern part of the country. Preparatory studies, prior to investment in MEP, were funded by IFC’s donor funded technical assistance trust funds program.

MEP will provide competitively priced funding to those small local entrepreneurs that have been traditionally underserved by normal channels of financing.  The project will also demonstrate that privately-run microfinance institutions can operate successfully and profitably.

IFC Executive Vice President Peter Woicke, who is in the Philippines, said the investment will reduce poverty and provide jobs by fuelling small business growth in Mindanao.  The project highlights IFC’s commitment to supporting a sustainable approach to fighting poverty, a core mission of the institution, he added.

IFC’s partners in launching MEP include: Planters Development Bank, the leading privately-owned development bank operating in the Philippines, which will own 40 percent; IMI (Internationale Micro Investitionen AG), a German microfinance corporation, which will own 20 percent; Stichting DOEN, (Stichting Duurzame Ontwikkeling En Natuurbescherming Postcodeloterij-Doen), a Dutch foundation for sustainable development, which will own 20 percent; and FMO (Netherlands Development Finance Company), a Dutch development corporation, which will own 10 percent.

The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries as a way to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives.  IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.