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IFC’s Mozambique SME Initiative Signs Investment and Technical Assistance Agreement with Spectrum Graphics Limited


In Johannesburg
Elizabeth Pretorius

Phone: +27 11 731 3000

E-mail:
epretorius@ifc.org


Maputo, Mozambique, November 2, 2005—The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed an integrated investment and technical assistance agreement with Spectrum Graphics Limited, a prepress design and printing services company.  This is the first such agreement through IFC’s Mozambique SME Initiative.  The investment will support the company’s corporate initiatives, including expansion of facilities and printing capacity to serve the local market.  The financing consists of a $700,000 quasi-equity investment and a $70,000 technical assistance loan for upgrading of financial systems and training of marketing staff.

Founded in 1998, Spectrum Graphics is a leading printing company in Mozambique.  It designs and produces high-quality stationery, advertising, and educational products, including HIV/AIDS education materials.  The company is owned and operated by two women entrepreneurs, Ms. Nadya Rawjee-Manji and Ms. Nilofer Lakhani, and has a work force of nearly 60 employees.

Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC’s Director for Global Manufacturing and Services, noted, “IFC’s support to this investment via the Mozambique SME Initiative reflects our commitment to leverage investment know-how and donor support to increase access to finance in Mozambique and other frontier markets.”

Run from IFC’s Maputo office, the Mozambique SME Initiative is an IFC pilot program working to build a portfolio of viable client companies, whose improved operational and financial results over the next five years are expected to stimulate interest from new investors in the country’s SMEs.  It is the latest in a series of SME partnerships between donor agencies and IFC, an organization whose strong implementation capacity derives from more than 600 full-time small business development specialists in the field worldwide and a Washington-based headquarters staff with expertise in business and finance as well as development. Along with IFC, the Swiss and Finnish governments are contributing resources to the initiative, with others expected to join in the near future.

The underlying premise of the initiative is that, despite an improving investment climate, it remains extremely difficult for local companies in Mozambique to attract capital from private investors. Several effective programs already serve microenterprises, the most basic level of the local private sector and the only employment option for many of the poor. But there are enormous unmet needs at the next level, small and medium enterprises. These businesses can play a key role in generating tax revenues, exporting products, and collaborating to form competitive local industries. They can also offer workers secure and well-paying jobs, as well as opportunities for training, potential for career advancement, health and safety protection in the workplace, and pension and insurance benefits. In almost every country that has substantially reduced poverty and created a sound middle class, the local SME sector has played a critical role.

IFC’s investments through the Mozambique SME Initiative are made on a fully commercial basis and target existing businesses with strong growth potential.  The investments range from $100,000 to $1 million and can be in the form of a royalty loan (quasi-equity), equity, or straight loan. Technical assistance is an integral part of the initiative.  It consists of customized, hands-on financing to selected SMEs, with two objectives: preparing them to qualify for direct financing from the investment program and developing successful, sustainable business practices post-investment.

Once a portfolio of sustainable SMEs has been developed, the longer-term goal is to develop the initiative into a self-supporting and viable investment vehicle owned by the private sector. Additional SMEs will then benefit, as there will be a new financial institution in a position to provide financial services to them—and that can serve as a model for such institutions across Africa. Local providers of consultancy services will also benefit from the initiative, as it aims also to improve local resources for technical assistance.

In addition to the the donor community, the investment in Spectrum Graphics involved collaboration with the World Bank’s Private Sector Development team and the PODE program technical assistance expertise.

Richard Ranken, IFC’s Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, noted, “The successful commitment of the first investment through the Mozambique SME Initiative demonstrates IFC and the World Bank’s combined emphasis on finding creative solutions that increase access to finance for SMEs in Africa.”

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.

From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications.  For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.