Press Releases

IFC and Large Firms Discuss Ways to Increase Entrepreneurship for Poor People Worldwide

In São Paulo:
Karina Manasseh
Phone: (55 11) 5185-6881

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 12, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Tribanco, a Brazilian microfinance bank, have sponsored a meeting for senior executives from top private sector firms to discuss ways to increase economic opportunities for communities in the developing countries where they operate. The meeting focused on support for entrepreneurs at the base of the economic pyramid. Other partners for the event include the Harvard Kennedy School's CSR Initiative and the International Business Leaders Forum.

Discussions highlighted systemic challenges that companies face, including building entrepreneurs’ skills and capacity and improving their chances to access financing.

“Even though our bank has made exciting strides in the past three years, reaching more than 3 million lower-income credit card customers, we see many opportunities to help more clients access Brazil’s financial system. To tap these opportunities, we must find ways to incorporate local entrepreneurs into our value chain.  To co-host this event with IFC in Brazil gave us an opportunity to share our own strategy on how to serve the base of the pyramid consumer and to learn from other successful models in Brazil and other countries, ” said Juscelino Martins, Chairman of Tribanco.

"At Unilever, we have different programs that work directly with entrepreneurs both in Brazil and other developing and emerging countries. We have set up a locally run system of distribution that allows local small business owners to become part of our distribution chain, allowing them to generate some income and create jobs. We are however always looking for ways to make our interactions more sustainable and easily adaptable to other countries'. said Mr. Kees Kruythoff, CEO of Unilever Brazil.

“IFC has a strategic priority to extend our business to companies that operate in the poorest parts of the world and to reach people at the base of the pyramid,” said Rachel Kyte, IFC Vice President for Business Advisory Services. “We do this by working with financial institutions and investing in companies that support lower-income people and entrepreneurs. We also work with large companies whose supply chains benefit poor people.”

Participants included multinationals such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, SABMiller, Starbucks, Newmont Ghana, and Unilever. The three IFC clients in  Brazil sharing their experiences were—Tribanco, a microfinance provider to small retail shops; Ruralfone, a low cost cell phone operator in the northeast; and Cemar, an electric company in the northeastern state of Maranhao. Kyte noted that there was consensus among all companies that they only succeed when the communities where they operate also benefit.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit

For more information about IFC’s partners, please visit:
International Business Leaders Forum,
CSR Initiative at Harvard’s Kennedy School,