Press Releases

IFC Focuses on New Solutions for Kenya’s Small Businesses and Large Projects

In Nairobi:
Gin Din Corporate Communications
Rodgers Wabito
Phone: +254 20 358 9000

In Johannesburg:
Houtan Bassiri
Phone: +2711 731 3179

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.

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 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, visit