Press Releases

IFC Helps Banks Increase Small Business Access to Finance in Eastern Europe & Central Asia

In Azerbaijan:  
Rasmina Gurbatova
Phone: (+99412) 497-7698 (416)

In Washington, D.C.:

Leila F. Search
Phone:  (202) 473-7511


Baku, Azerbaijan, October 26, 2010—
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping bankers in Eastern Europe and Central Asia develop their operations and provide financial services to improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises.  

In collaboration with the governments of Japan and the Netherlands, IFC is training bankers on building sustainable small and medium banking operations.  The training program, in Baku from October 25 to October 28, covers strategy and market segmentation, product design, credit risk management, and information management systems.  It also includes a training-of-trainers component that will ensure sustainability of the training offering in local markets beyond IFC’s workshop.

More than 35 bankers and trainers from 15 institutions in Azerbaijan are participating in the event, which is part of a training program developed by IFC’s Global SME Banking Program to help banks in emerging markets target the small-business sector and build or expand this line of business.  

Small and medium enterprises are a major driver of economic growth and job creation, yet in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, smaller enterprises struggle to finance the growth of their businesses.

“In the recovery after the global financial crisis, the SME sector plays a key role as a driver of economic growth, providing employment opportunities. IFC's SME Banking training program aims to help banks and bankers improve and strengthen access to finance for SMEs, thus leading to the development of more job opportunities for the economy”, said Rolf Behrndt, IFC Regional Business Line Leader.

“Experience in other regions has shown that these training sessions provide bankers with the practical knowledge they need to start building - or adapting, as the case may be - their own SME banking operations. While successful SME banking is certainly not rocket science, surprisingly few banks demonstrate adequate awareness of the basic building blocks. This course covers all this and more”, said Neil Ramsden, an IFC Senior SME Banking Specialist.

IFC also has conducted similar training sessions in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, the Caribbean, and East Asia and Pacific.

To learn more about IFC’s Global SME Banking Program, visit

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit