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IFC Brings Leasing Development to Bolivian Business Leaders


In Lima
Paul Melton

Phone: +(51) 1 611 2510

Email:
pmelton@ifc.org


LA PAZ, BOLIVIA, December 14, 2004 - Over 100 government and private sector leaders gathered today in La Paz for the first Bolivia’s international leasing conference, organized by the International Finance Corporation’s Technical Assistance Facility for Latin America and the Caribbean.  The conference featured speakers from IFC, the InterAmerican Development Bank, and several leasing institutions from the region, including Colombia, Argentina, and Peru.  Conference participants included the Minister of Finance, Superintendent of Companies, Superintendent of Banks and Financial Institutions and presidents of key commercial banks.

The conference focused on current IFC Facility-supported leasing development programs in Bolivia to heighten public awareness of leasing benefits.  Initial market surveys indicate that the Bolivian financial sector is supportive of leasing development, but a wider support base is needed for successfully enacting the requisite regulatory reforms.  In bringing together a diverse array of key private sector stakeholders, the conference served to build broader consensus and support for the Facility’s leasing program.  Moreover, the conference also provided an opportunity for gathering valuable input from the private sector.


Bolivia's leasing sector, which currently consists of only one company, has a great potential for growth. IFC research shows, while the financial sector is generally well-developed, most credit institutions depend heavily on collateral, guarantees, and credit history for loan approvals.  Such requirements are major obstacles for SME development, as most SMEs are unable to meet them.  By providing an alternative financing mechanism, leasing services broaden access to the financial resources necessary for SME growth.


To support leasing market development, the IFC Facility’s technical assistance for the sector has been designed in four phases.  The first phase centers on facilitating the reforms necessary to improve the regulatory environment for leasing.  The Facility has formed a working group of key stakeholders to propose reforms, which are currently on the Congress’ agenda.  Once the reforms have been successfully implemented, subsequent phases will focus on building capacity and training stakeholders, raising public awareness of leasing services, and creating opportunities for domestic and foreign investment in leasing.  The leasing development program has been supported through funds from seco, the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs.


According to Atul Mehta, IFC Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, “The Facility’s leasing development program in Bolivia leverages IFC’s extensive experience is leasing development elsewhere, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  The ability to share best practices and accrued experiences across regions distinguishes IFC as a leader in technical assistance.”


ABOUT IFC

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. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

ABOUT IFC TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FACILITY FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

The IFC Technical Assistance Facility for Latin America and the Caribbean is a multilateral initiative backed by core IFC fund and program-specific funds from various donors (among them, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland).  The Facility's work program is focused on sustainability, investment climate improvement, and strengthening SME competitiveness.  IFC also seeks to add value to IFC private sector development through programs such as linkages (which strengthen connections between investment clients and their local economies and communities) and business simplification.  The Facility, based in Lima, is currently operating in four countries (Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Bolivia) and is actively exploring opportunities for expanding to other countries in the region.