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EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF IFC SIGNS NEW INVESTMENTS IN WEST AFRICA


Brigid Janssen
Phone: (202) 478-4698
Fax: (202) 974-4384
E-mail: bjanssen@ifc.org


WASHINGTON, D.C., November 24, 1999 — The Executive Vice President of the International Finance Corporation, Peter Woicke, marked a vist to West Africa with agreements for new investments to build up local securities markets, provide financing for the smallest businesses, as well as direct financing for a printer of school books in Mali and a loan and equity package to promote palm oil production in Côte d'Ivoire.
Microfinancing will be bolstered by two IFC investments, in financial institutions in Senegal and Mali. Commercial banks have limited knowledge of micro-finance institutions and have been reluctant to lend to them without a risk-mitigating mechanism. IFC's guarantees will enable local banks to mobilize funding for small clients who have no access to the formal banking system and to develop long-term lending operations.
IFC will provide a local currency guarantee of up to CFAF 500 million (about US$800,000) to Alliance de Crédit et d'Epargne pour la Production (ACEP), one of the largest micro-finance institutions in Senegal, so that it can make loans to burgeoning small businesses. About 7,000 clients stand to benefit.
ACEP began in 1985 as a USAID-funded project to provide management training and credit to small entrepreneurs and in 1993 it was transformed into a credit union, now with 24 member local credit unions.
During the West Africa trip, Nov. 15 to 28, Mr. Woicke signs a similar guarantee in Mali of up to CFAF 400 million (about US$650,000) to Nyesigiso, a network of 43 local credit unions.
IFC's guarantee will allow Nyesigiso, with 50,000 members, to obtain medium-term local currency loans from local commercial banks for about twice the guaranteed amount. The non-guaranteed exposure will ensure ongoing supervision by local banks and pave the way for future commercial borrowing without an IFC guarantee.
Nyesigiso started in 1989 as a pilot project of Développment International Desjardins, the international consulting arm of the Canadian credit union, Caisses Desjardins. The project was expanded in 1993 with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency.
In Côte d'Ivoire, IFC is making an equity investment of CFAF 30 million (US$50,000) to l'Africaine de Bourse, to set up a brokerage house that will trade securities in the newly established West African Regional Stock Exchange, and foster an active securities market in the eight-nation West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
A modern efficient brokerage house will provide long-term debt and equity finance for the corporate sector and diversify business ownership and make privatization in WAEMU countries more feasible. IFC brings wide experience in developing stock exchanges and brokerage companies in emerging markets.
In another investment, that will enhance education and support a smaller business in Mali, Mr. Woicke signs a guarantee so that CIM (Complexe Industriel du Mali), a printing and publishing company, can obtain a loan of CFAF 214 million (US$356,000). The project will help a local entrepreneur play a larger role in an industry that supplies the schools that are crucial for Mali's development.
With the loan, the company will add a new printing press and production capacity. Crédit Initiative S.A., a small financial institution sponsored by the European Investment Bank, is IFC's investment partner in the project. Crédit Initiative S.A. will extend a CFAF 95 million facility at its own risk and will provide a local currency loan of CFAF 214 million with IFC's guarantee.
In Côte d'Ivoire, IFC will help a new agribusiness company to produce palm oil and palm kernel. IFC will make a loan for its own account of US$1 million equivalent in euros and an equity investment of CFAF 120 million (US$200,000) for a 9 percent shareholding in SANEK.
The $5.3 million project will purchase a fully integrated extraction plant to process 48,000 tons of palm fruit per year, in Neka, 550 kilometres west of Abidjan. The new plant will yield 10,000 tons of palm oil and 2,000 tons of palm kernel annually. The project is sponsored by a group of 46 palm fruit plantation owners
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.