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IFC Sponsors Conference to Promote Financial Inclusion in the Pacific


In Sydney:
Karen Stingemore        
Phone: +61 2 9235 6524
E-mail: kstingemore@ifc.org

In Hong Kong:
Andrew Mak
Phone: +852 2509 8110
E-mail: amak@ifc.org


Port Moresby, August 27, 2007 – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is sponsoring a conference in Papua New Guinea for key stakeholders to share information on providing financial services to all, particularly undeserved markets to promote sustainable development. This will help increase access to remittances, payment services and insurance, savings and credit in the Pacific Islands.

The conference will be held August 27-31, 2007, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel during the Pacific Microfinance Week. An initiative of Microfinance Pasifika Network, the conference will be organized by the Foundation for Development Cooperation, the PNG Institute of Banking and Business Management, and the Microfinance Competence Center.

The event, sponsored by IFC Advisory Services for the Pacific PEP-Pacific will bring together donors, banks, Microfinance Pasifika members, microfinance institutions, and other supporters to network and share experiences. A series of workshops and presentations will address issues related to microfinance, including technology, linkages and partnerships, asset building for the poor, and the role of central banks and governments. Key Presentations will include microfinance and financial inclusion in Papua New Guinea as well as financial markets infrastructure, with an emphasis on credit bureaus.

“The week provides the Pacific microfinance community in the Pacific with a unique opportunity to exchange views and experiences. They will learn about global best practices and how microfinance trends affect the region,” said Brigit Helms, IFC Sector Leader for Access to Finance. “More importantly, this will enable participants to identify a few regional priorities to work on collectively.”

Helms will make the keynote address. Other IFC representatives will be Robert Simms, PEP-Pacific Acting General Manager; Peter Cusack, PNG Country Coordinator; and Tony Lythgoe and Peter Sheerin, IFC Credit Bureau and Risk Management Advisors, Global Financial Markets.

“IFC is pleased to be a lead sponsor of the conference. We believe it will benefit the growing number of microfinance practitioners in the region,” said Richard Ranken, IFC Director for East Asia and Pacific. “Our support reflects the importance that we attach to achieving financial inclusion in the Pacific.”

IFC is committed to building strong commercial microfinance institutions that drive entrepreneurship. Over the past 10 years, the Corporation has achieved industry leadership in microfinance by financing 128 projects in 47 countries.

Figures from 2006 indicate that IFC’s microfinance activities made a difference to the lives of about 3.5 million entrepreneurs. IFC’s clients in the sector had a combined loan portfolio of $5.6 billion. In fiscal 2007, the microfinance unit disbursed over $180 million, pushing the Corporation’s microfinance portfolio to the $600 million mark.  

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY06, IFC committed $8.3 billion, including syndications, to 248 investments in 66 developing countries. For more information, please visit www.ifc.org.

About IFC PEP-Pacific
The IFC Private Enterprise Partnership for the Pacific is a multidonor initiative managed and funded by IFC. Other donors include Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. Its primary objective is poverty reduction through employment-generating, sustainable private sector development.  Programs focus on access to finance, tourism, and business climate development.  The initiative works with partners to strengthen and stimulate small and medium enterprises, helping create jobs, raise living standards, and alleviate poverty.  It serves IFC member countries in the Pacific, including Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, and Vanuatu.