Nairobi, November 26, 2007 — IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, has put a priority on improving infrastructure
and building a more inclusive and vibrant financial sector that can support
smaller businesses better. IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Lars Thunell
highlighted these priorities and commitment to Kenya during a two-day visit
to the country. He met with government officials, development partners,
local private sector representatives, and IFC clients.
“IFC is working with companies and
institutions across a variety of sectors to help promote the private sector
by encouraging best practices across Kenya,” Thunell said. “We will continue
to build our business with a diverse range of financial products and advisory
services to meet client needs and ensure a stronger development impact.”
IFC’s strategy in Kenya focuses on
mobilizing direct investments to key sectors of the economy, including
financial markets, tourism, agribusiness, infrastructure, and construction.
Several cross-cutting IFC investments and advisory services programs also
aim to increase access to finance for smaller businesses, which comprise
a substantial part of the country’s economy.
The IFC SME Solutions Center in Nairobi
is an initiative to support smaller Kenyan businesses. The center, which
started operations in 2005, aims to bring key business services under one
roof and provide a comprehensive package of assistance to small business
clients. It has so far provided about $200,000 worth of advisory services
to small business, reviewed over 200 business plans, and trained more than
a thousand entrepreneurs.
The SME Solution Center has also teamed
up with South African fund managers Business Partners to set up the Business
Partners International risk capital fund, which serves as the financing
component of the SME Solution Center. The $14.1 million fund for Kenya,
to which IFC contributed $5 million, has already approved 15 investments
in small and medium enterprises for a total of $3.1 million.
IFC also works closely with Kenya’s
financial institutions to help increase their lending to small and medium
enterprises. IFC played a key role in commercializing K-Rep Bank, a principal
SME financial institution, and continues to explore ways to collaborate
in innovative financing projects targeting micro and small businesses.
To support improved infrastructure in
Kenya, in December 2006 IFC committed a $32 million to help revitalize
the Kenya-Uganda Railway concession, under a private operator.
Kenya was one of the top 10 global reformers
in the Doing Business 2008 report, an annual publication by IFC
and the World Bank. Kenya launched an ambitious licensing reform program
that has so far eliminated 110 business licenses and simplified eight others.
The changes have streamlined business start-up and cut both the time and
cost of getting building permits. The program will eventually eliminate
or simplify at least 900 more of the country’s 1,300 licenses. Property
registration is also faster now, thanks to the introduction of competition
among land valuers. And the country’s private credit bureau now collects
a wider range of data.
IFC committed $77.25 million in investments
to 11 projects in Kenya during fiscal year 2007. Since its first investment
in 1967, IFC has committed $429 million for its own account to 73 projects
in the country.
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 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 loan participations
and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries.
IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information,