Press Releases

IFC Invests in Life Insurance Company Serving Disabled People in Latin America

In Washington, D.C.
Cynthia Case
Phone: + 1 (202) 473 6287

Washington D.C., February 2, 2007 — IFC announced that it will make a $3 million equity investment in ParaLife Holdings Ltd., a regional company that will generate and market insurance products to disabled and low-income people in Latin America through its operating subsidiaries and franchise partners.  ParaLife will launch its first operation in Mexico and is seeking to expand quickly to Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.  In addition to offering life insurance polices to disabled people, their families, and care providers, ParaLife will also offer training to disabled people through its independent ParaLife Foundation, helping generate employment opportunities for them in the insurance industry.

According to the United Nations, some 400 million people with disabilities live in developing countries, representing more than 10 percent of the local populations.  People with disabilities together with their family members may constitute a 25 to 40 percent share of a country’s population.  These groups, combined with the low-income segments of societies, represent a vast, untapped market that ParaLife intends to serve.  

“This is a truly innovative project,” said Jyrki Koskelo, Director of IFC’s Financial Markets Department.  “No traditional life insurer addresses the disabled persons market anywhere in the world today.  Providing life insurance products to this community as well as jobs and employment opportunities clearly demonstrates the high development impact that ParaLife can have in Latin America.”

The company was founded by Rolf Huppi, formerly the CEO and Chairman of Zurich Financial Services.  “The ParaLife business concept is based on the concept of a socially responsible enterprise,” said Mr. Huppi. “We have seen enormous interest from microfinance networks, retail outlets, and other possible distribution channels to work with ParaLife in distributing our insurance products as well as participating in the training and employment of people in the disabled community.  We are delighted that multilateral institutions such as IFC and IDB, as well as socially responsible investors such as Grey Matters Capital and Omidyar Tufts, have joined us in making this project a reality.”  

About IFC

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is the largest multilateral provider of financing for private enterprise in developing countries. IFC provides financial products for private sector investments, mobilizes capital in international financial markets, facilitates trade, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides advisory services to businesses and governments.  From its founding in 1956 through FY06, IFC has committed more than $56 billion of its own funds for private sector investments in the developing world and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. With the support of funding from donors, it has also provided more than $1 billion in advisory services. For more information, visit