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IFC CHIEF EXECUTIVE MAKES FIRST VISIT TO CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS September 29 – October 11, 2000


Jannette Esguerra
Phone: (202) 458-5204
Fax: (202) 974-4384
E-mail: jesguerra@ifc.org


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 28, 2000 – The Executive Vice President of the International Finance Corporation, Peter Woicke, will visit the Central Asian Republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan, where IFC has put high priority on investments in the financial sector and banks, especially those that serve small and medium businesses. Beyond its investments, IFC is also providing pre-investment assistance to develop the agribusiness and tourism industries that are key to economic development in the region.
His first stop will be Uzbekistan, where IFC has recently approved financing to Osiyo
Granite, a locally owned marble and granite company; and additional equity financing for Uzbek Leasing, a Tashkent based company that provides long-term financial leases for plant and machinery, office equipment, and transportation vehicles to enterprises with export potential. Mr. Woicke will meet with banking officials at Parvina Bank and Hamkor Bank, where IFC has approved credit lines to enable the banks to provide long-term financing for the fledgling small business community in the Samarkand and Andijan regions. In an effort to address the general shortage of international financing in Uzbekistan, IFC had already approved $30 million in credit lines to the National Bank of Uzbekistan, Asaka Bank and ABN AMRO Bank Uzbekistan to on-lend to small and medium sized businesses. While in the country, he will meet Uzbek government officials, entrepreneurs, and bankers.
In Kazakhstan, IFC is helping to modernize and develop the financial sector with medium and long-term investments such as credit lines to both local and foreign joint-venture banks. Mr. Woicke will meet with banking officials from TuranAlem and Kazkommertsbank, the two largest private banks in Kazakhstan, in which IFC invested in order to strengthen their funding base, improve their liquidity position and allow them to lend to small and medium companies. IFC is working with donors to establish the Central Asia Business Support Service to provide wide-ranging technical assistance to SMEs.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, IFC, in conjunction with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and three other investors, is helping to establish Kyrgyz Investment & Commercial Bank to meet the widespread demand of private businesses for financing. The investment will enable the bank to stimulate competition with other banks by lending to private companies, including small and medium enterprises. IFC is advising on creating sustainable microfinance facilities, which build upon the structure of existing projects. Through such investments and technical assistance in the Kyrgyz Republic, IFC is helping to remove the impediments to small business development.
In Tajikistan, IFC's investment in Holland Supermarket was designed to provide major benefits to consumers through lower prices, one-stop shopping, increased variety of goods, and better quality products. IFC has also invested in Tamo Marble to expand its marble-manufacturing unit and develop a granite quarry in the northern Tajik city of Chakalovsk, where the project is expected to generate additional employment. IFC is currently processing investments in competitive agro-processing companies such as cotton ginning and related activities, and is working to establish a small farmers' supply and marketing company, as well as an advisory services company in Dushanbe.
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan are all countries where IFC has put special emphasis on countries and regions where difficult conditions have hampered private investment. As part of this effort, IFC is increasing local presence in each country to develop knowledge about local conditions and building relationships with the business community and governmental authorities in an effort to generate new business.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will 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.