Washington, D.C./Sao Paulo, Brazil, December
18, 2003.- The International Finance Corporation, the private
sector arm of the World Bank Group, launched a framework that will allow
private sector companies in Brazil to assist the country’s 1,000
poorest municipalities. Financed by IFC and launched jointly with Brazil’s
Ethos Institute and the nongovernmental organization Polis, this effort
supports President Lula da Silva’s Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) program.
The framework includes a database and a web site (www.fomezero.org.br)
with information about the social and economic needs in 1,000 municipalities
in Brazil, including local initiatives already in operation. The database
also lists social organizations that are potential partners of private
companies interested in supporting and financing specific local initiatives.
This framework has the potential to benefit more than 4 million families,
or 19 million people. The Fome Zero Program is aimed at assisting 9.9 million
Brazilian families, or 46.5 million people, who lived on less than $1 per
day in 2001.
As part of this program, a general guide, Securing Food and Nutritional
Needs: Contribution of Private Companies to the Implementation of Local
Initiatives, has been published in Brazil. It provides practical
steps to companies on how to participate in this project.
Peter Woicke, head of IFC and managing director of the World Bank Group,
announced the initiative during a visit to Brazil in February 2002, observing
that the plan provides a mechanism to strengthen the practice of corporate
social responsibility in the country.
Bernard Pasquier, the Brazil-based director of IFC’s Latin America and
Caribbean department, noted, “Private companies need to be aware that
sustainability is a pragmatic and strategic course of action, and not an
ideological exercise.” He described this new framework as “a virtual
matchmaker” between the poorest municipalities in Brazil and the private
companies willing to help. Pasquier acknowledged that Brazilian companies
are leaders in Latin America in terms of social responsibility and added,
“I am optimistic about the response and engagement not only of private
companies, but also of NGOs, in this effort.”
Paulo Itacarambi, executive director of the Ethos Institute, noted, “This
initiative will encourage private sector participation by offering useful
tools and organized data on the municipalities, their needs, and the opportunities
Brazil is IFC’s largest partner, not only in the region but worldwide.
In fiscal year 2003, Brazil was the largest recipient of IFC funds for
a second consecutive year, with funding amounting to $888.4 million.
Wolfgang Bertelsmeier, IFC’s country manager for Brazil, said, “This
initiative shows the potential of public-private partnerships, and is consistent
with IFC’s strategy in Brazil to support the country’s long-term actions
for socially sustainable growth and poverty reduction.”
IFC granted $300,000 to the Ethos and Polis institutes, to identify the
greatest needs in poor municipalities as well as develop the database and
call center, where companies can clarify any questions or submit proposals.
The call center number in Sao Paulo is (11) 3214 1013.
The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment
in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's
lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world,
mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients
improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding
in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own
funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140
developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY02 was
$16.7 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants
in loan syndications.