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
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.”
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 www.ifc.org.