LA PAZ, BOLIVIA, March 9, 1999 --- The
International Finance Corporation today signed an agreement for its first
direct loan to a microlending institution in South America. IFC will provide
a $2 million credit line to Caja Los Andes S.A. for on-lending to microentrepreneurs
Microentrepreneurial activities in Bolivia provide a crucial source of
income and employment generation for much of the country's largely indigenous
population, most of whom live at or below the poverty line, said Bernard
Pasquier, Senior Manager of the Latin America and the Caribbean Department
during the signing ceremony. The microenterprise sector benefits women
in particular, who traditionally make up the majority of borrowers, and
typically use the proceeds to provide for the health and nutrition needs
of their families.
During the 1990s, microlending in Bolivia by both non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) and commercial institutions has expanded rapidly. IFC's investment
will support the growth of Caja Los Andes, one of Bolivia's leading commercial
microlending institutions, and help it to meet the rising credit demand
in the sector. Caja Los Andes, which began operations in 1992 as Pro-Credito,
an NGO, became a commercial institution regulated by the Bolivian Superintendency
of Banking in 1995.
The project reflects the World Bank Group's support for the Government
of Bolivia's National Action Plan, developed in consultation with Bolivian
society, to raise the living standards of the poor, strengthen institutions,
and achieve sustainable private sector led growth.
IFC, part of the World Bank Group, fosters economic growth in the developing
world by financing private sector investments, mobilizing capital in the
international financial markets and providing technical assistance and
advice to governments and businesses.