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IFC Hosts Queen Rania of Jordan at Forum on Microfinance in the Middle East


In Washington:
Georg Schmidt

Phone: +1 (202) 458-2934

Fax:      +1 (202) 974-4384

Email:
Gschmidt@ifc.org


Washington D.C., May 31, 2005 – The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, today hosted Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan at a forum on microfinance in the Middle East.  

The purpose of the forum, which took place at IFC’s headquarters in Washington, was to discuss the particular challenges of developing microfinance in the region. Her Majesty underlined the role of microfinance, which not only helps small businesses grow strong roots, but nourishes capable, resourceful people starving for opportunity, cultivating their confidence and reaping a harvest of hope.


Other speakers included Elizabeth Littlefield, chief executive officer of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP); Rupert Scofield, executive director of FINCA; Fouad Abdelmoumni, executive director of Association Al Amana; Peter Kooi, director of Microfinance of UNCDF; and Aftab Ahmed, senior manager of microfinance at IFC.


“We are very pleased to be able to host Her Majesty at IFC and to have such a strong panel of speakers on this important topic,” said Assaad Jabre, acting executive vice president of IFC. “Microfinance is a powerful force for helping large numbers of the region’s poorest families, as they invest in businesses, generate their own jobs, and reduce their vulnerability. In this year of microcredit, it is important to recognize that the poor need a range of financial services, not just loans. Depending on their circumstances, poor people need savings, cash transfers, and insurance, too.”


An Emissary for the 2005 United Nations Year of Microcredit, Queen Rania has championed initiatives to improve the livelihood of Jordanians from various sectors of society. One of her special interests is the development of income-generating projects and advancements in microfinance.  She established the Jordan River Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that works at the grassroots level to motivate low-income Jordanian families to participate in economic initiatives.


IFC made its first microfinance investment in 1995 and has since helped build delivery capacity for microfinance in more than 35 countries around the world.  IFC-supported microfinance institutions today serve more than 2 million low-income clients around the world.  


IFC has also contributed to the creation of the financial infrastructure that is needed to expand the flow of private sector resources to the microfinance sector in its developing member countries.  


In the Middle East, IFC has been investing in the microfinance sector since 1997.  In addition to investment, IFC is providing substantial technical assistance through its Private Enterprise Partnership in the Middle East and North Africa.  These efforts are helping develop a vibrant sector for the financing of micro and small businesses across the region.

The mission of IFC (www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding in 1956, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY04 was $17.9 billion, with an additional $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.


For further information please contact:


FINCA
 www.villagebanking.org
CGAP  
www.cgap.org
UNCDF
www.uncdf.org
Jordan River Foundation
www.jordanriver.jo
Association Al Amana
www.alamana.org