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IFC Helps Extend Telephone Services to Rural Villages in Brazil


In São Paulo, Brazil:
Karina Manasseh
Phone: (55 11) 5185-6881
E-mail:
kmanasseh@ifc.org


Washington, D.C., April 11, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced that it is providing a loan to Ruralfone, a telecommunications company in Brazil, to help extend low-cost telephone services to rural villages in Ceará, one of the country’s poorest states.

IFC’s investment of up to $6 million equivalent will support Ruralfone’s plans to improve access to telecommunication services for the poor. It will also reduce costs, while increasing the quality of the service. This will spur competition and benefit small and medium enterprises that operate in Ceará. The loan will also support Local Serviços de Telecomunicações, Ruralfone’s Brazilian subsidiary, as it aims to expand its customer base from 6,000 users to 35,000 by 2010.  

     
Denis Côté, President and CEO of Ruralfone, said, “By providing good quality service at lower costs, we have increased telephone penetration substantially in four pilot cities, and we are planning to extend services to at least 10 more towns in Ceará during the next 18 months.”


Andrew Gunther, IFC General Manager for Brazil, said, “Through this investment, IFC is helping implement a unique business model that will reach people in one of Brazil’s poorest areas.”

Local Serviços de Telecomunicações targets low-income consumers who value price and connectivity more than mobility. Inexpensive and readily available GSM handsets ensure that the service is affordable to more customers for the first time. About 50 percent of Local’s clients did not have a phone before.


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
www.ifc.org.

About Ruralfone

Ruralfone Inc is a United States–based entity that was established to provide basic, low-cost telephone services in smaller villages and cities in developing countries. In May 2005, through its Brazilian subsidiary, Local Serviços de Telecomunicações Ltda, the company launched its pilot in Ceará, with support from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. For more information, visit
www.ruralfone.com.