Press Releases

IFC, IBRD, and Wharton School Launch Comprehensive Web Portal to Support Housing Finance Sector

IFC contacts:
Lotte Pang
Phone: (202) 458-0952

February 14, 2008, Washington, D.C.—IFC and IBRD, members of the World Bank Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania today launched a Web portal that is designed to be a leading global source of information on housing finance. The Housing Finance Information Network Web portal ( or temporarily will provide an accessible platform for trusted information on housing finance and support the development of the sector.

The portal, to be run by a nongovernmental organization, will bring together IFC, IBRD, the Wharton School, and other donors. It will consolidate housing finance information and knowledge, with an emphasis on emerging markets and developing countries. The portal will encourage the sharing of detailed country case studies, innovations, and best practices in housing finance, and the distribution of relevant research. IFC and IBRD will provide content for the portal, and IFC will also provide seed funding. The Wharton School will provide its global expertise in the area and technical support for the portal.  

Marja Hoek-Smit, Director of the International Housing Finance Program of the Wharton School, said, “Expanding housing finance systems requires a dramatic increase in the number of professionals with the right skills and knowledge. There is a great need to engage with and support professionals in the many countries where the sector is developing rapidly and to provide them with a platform for sharing information and experience. The Housing Finance Information Network will help mobilize resources for scaling up housing finance.”  

James Scriven, IFC Director for Global Financial Markets,
said, “As the world rapidly urbanizes, slums and substandard housing proliferate. Tackling this problem requires creating housing finance systems that can mobilize domestic entrepreneurial and home investment capital. The industry has a wealth of experience but lacks a centralized information base. Our vision is to consolidate global housing finance information and knowledge into a Web portal that is accessible to policymakers and practitioners around the world.”

Loc Chiquier, World Bank Program Manager for Housing Finance, said, “Housing finance systems are on the rise in a number of emerging economies, but owning an affordable unit remains a challenge for many people. The new portal will help develop sound and accessible housing finance markets by providing critical and accurate information and enabling professionals from around the world to exchange experience and ideas.”

The Housing Finance Information Network portal is expected to be fully operational by September 2008. It will cover 35 subjects in housing finance and more than 40  countries by 2009. The portal is expected to attract a broad range of users, including policymakers, housing and housing finance practitioners (public, private, and nongovernment sectors), trade associations, researchers, students, and journalists. The Web site will be updated frequently, and it will feature blogs and discussion forums. The legal work to establish the portal was provided by the law firm Arnold and Potter on a pro bono basis.

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 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

About the Wharton School

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school. It is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education.

Wharton’s International Housing Finance Program was established in 1985 to foster excellence in housing policy and housing finance education, research, and technical advisory services, with a focus on developing and emerging market economies. It is part of the Sam Zell/Robert Lurie Real Estate Center of the Wharton School and draws on the faculty of the Wharton Finance and Real Estate departments, as well as specialists from the private sector. For more information, visit

Wharton contacts:
Meghan Laska
Phone: (215) 573-0757