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IFC Microfinance Program Expands in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Aims to Support Loans to 400,000 New Borrowers in Africa in Next Five Years


In Johannesburg:
Houtan Bassiri
Phone: +27 11 731 3179
E-mail: hbassiri@ifc.org

In Washington, D.C.:
Lotte Pang
Phone: +1 (202) 758 4290
E-mail:
lpang@ifc.org


Cape Town, June 5, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced that it will help launch Advans Banque Congo, a new microfinance institution in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The transaction is the latest in IFC’s microfinance strategy for Africa, under which IFC plans to support loans to more than 400,000 small entrepreneurs in Africa’s poorest regions in the next five years.

IFC aims to increase access to funds in Africa’s poorest areas through commercially viable microfinance institutions. With this strategy, IFC plans to help establish five such institutions annually over the next several years.  IFC’s equity investment of up to $1.1 million in Advans Banque Congo’s shares will support the launch and help the company reach entrepreneurs in a conflict-affected country where most people lack access to financial services. This will be followed by a loan of up to $2 million to support growth of Advans Banque Congo’s portfolio.

“Microfinance institutions provide valuable support to entrepreneurs and small businesses in developing countries. They also play a key role in improving financial infrastructure,” said Claude Falgon, Manager of Advans. “Working with IFC will enable us to reach underserved people, helping create jobs and reduce poverty.”

Advans Banque Congo will also receive advice on how to implement best practices; adhere to international social, environmental, and anti-money laundering standards; and train local staff. These services will be delivered by Horus Development Finance, Advans’ technical partner.

“IFC is working to expand financial services where they are needed most, particularly in Africa’s poorest countries and those emerging from conflict,” said Thierry Tanoh, IFC Director for Sub-Saharan Africa. “Microfinance is a critical tool in the fight against poverty and a central part of IFC’s strategy to support the development of a vibrant private sector in the region.”
       
Advans Banque Congo will be established in partnership with German development bank KfW, with which IFC has a collaboration agreement to mobilize more than $100 million for new microfinance institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa. It will be set up by Advans S.A. SICAR, a Luxembourg-based company. IFC has worked with Advans and Horus in other transactions, including in Cameroon and Ghana.

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 www.ifc.org.

About Advans
Advans S.A. SICAR was created in August 2005 and has its headquarters in Luxembourg. Its mission is to build a network of microfinance institutions in developing and emerging countries that cater to the banking needs of micro, small, and medium enterprises, with limited or no access to formal banking services. The company was created by Horus Development Finance, with the backing of several development financial institutions: Agence Française de Développement, European Investment Bank, Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappijvoor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V., IFC, and KfW Entwicklungsbank. Its total committed share capital is €14.1 million. For more information, visit
www.advansgroup.com.