ANTANANARIVO/WASHINGTON, D.C., June, 14,
2004—The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm
of the World Bank Group, today introduced an entirely novel initiative
in its efforts to address Africa’s economic development needs more comprehensively.
The first in a planned series of IFC Solutions Centers for Small and Medium
Enterprises in Africa was officially inaugurated in Antananarivo, Madagascar,
by H.E. Marc Ravalomanana, the Malagasy president.
The Solutions Center reflects IFC’s deep commitment to ensuring that small
and medium firms – the bulwark of the private sector in Africa - receive
comprehensive solutions to the problems they face, helping to boost private
investment-led wealth and job creation in the continent.
IFC’s SME Solutions Center in Madagascar is an integrated delivery platform
for servicing and financing small businesses. The center includes a special
facility, managed by a partnership with a local financial institution sponsored
by IFC, that will provide short- and long-term financing to small businesses.
The Solutions Center is also equipped with technology to provide these
firms with access to business information, and has advisory capacity to
help improve the business environment for small and medium enterprises
Haydée Celaya, IFC Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “IFC’s center
will provide Malagasy small and medium enterprises with a one-stop solution
in addressing the four key constraints to their optimal growth: better
access to finance, better access to information, aiding private sector
capacity building, and creating a more enabling business environment.”
She added, “IFC hopes that the SME Solutions Center in Antananarivo will
serve as a successful prototype for rolling out other centers in the continent.”
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.