Pristina, Kosovo, December 3, 2001—The
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the
World Bank Group, has become the newest shareholder of Micro Enterprise
Bank Ltd., Kosovo’s leading commercial bank and a specialized provider
of small and microenterprise financing. IFC invested approximately
US$1.1 million for 16.7 percent of the equity of the bank – its first
direct investment in Kosovo.
The IFC investment will provide much-needed growth capital for Micro Enterprise
Bank, the first financial institution to be licensed in post-conflict Kosovo.
Although initially developed to provide micro credit, Micro Enterprise
Bank has quickly become a key part of the payments infrastructure of Kosovo,
which was wiped out by the conflict in Yugoslavia. Micro Enterprise
Bank is meeting Kosovo’s growing demand for financial services through
providing account management, foreign exchange and money transfer services,
loans and cashless payment transactions to micro and small enterprises
and individual customers.
“Sustaining economic recovery in Kosovo depends on the availability of
basic banking services,” said Khosrow Zamani, Director of IFC’s Southern
Europe and Central Asia Department. "Micro Enterprise Bank does
just that, giving ordinary people the means to provide for their own livelihoods.
It has become a dependable, commercial-oriented source of credit
and other financial services for micro and small businesses, which form
the backbone of the Kosovar economy." Mr. Zamani emphasized
the importance of strong financial intermediaries to private sector development.
Established in late 1999 as a joint initiative of IFC, the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Internationale Projekt Consult,
Micro Enterprise Bank is based in Pristina. The bank now has seven
branches throughout Kosovo. In addition to IFC and EBRD, shareholders
include Nederlandse Financierungs Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden
(FMO), Commerzbank, Foundation for Enterprise Finance and Development (FEFAD),
and Internationale Micro Investitionen (IMI). Following IFC’s investment,
Micro Enterprise Bank’s share capital rose to US$6.6 million equivalent.
Micro Enterprise Bank is IFC’s seventh transaction under its Microfinance
Capacity Building Facility. The Facility, approved by IFC’s Board
of Directors in May 2000, provides for up to $11.3 million in direct investments
to establish microfinance institutions in IFC-member developing countries
and $1.4 million in trust funds for co-financing technical assistance and
start-up costs for microfinance institutions.
IFC’s mission 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, and provides technical
assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding
in 1956, IFC has committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged
$20 billion in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries.
IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.