Press Releases

IFC to Help Malawi’s First Merchant Bank Increase Lending to Smaller Businesses

In Johannesburg:
Houtan Bassiri
Phone:  +27 11 731 3179

In Washington, D.C.:
Lotte Pang
Phone: +1 (202) 758 4290

Lilongwe, Malawi, November 19, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced today that it will join forces with Malawi’s First Merchant Bank to raise the country’s share of global trade, increase lending to small and medium enterprises, and help develop the agribusiness sector.

IFC will provide $10 million in guarantees against FMB’s underlying trade transactions, covering payment risk and helping increase Malawi’s share of the global trade finance market. IFC will also provide advisory services to help FMB expand its range of loan products, raise its credit risk management practices, and increase its reach to smaller businesses, particularly those involved in agribusiness.

“FMB constantly strives to offer an innovative range of products and services for our clients,” said Seetharama Srinivasan, FMB’s Deputy Managing Director. “Our collaboration with IFC will enable us to better support micro, small, and medium enterprises, which comprise a significant portion of Malawi’s economy and often face difficulty accessing credit.”

IFC’s guarantees will be provided under a program that promotes trade by guaranteeing bank risk in emerging markets, allowing recipients to enhance their trade finance coverage and to expand transactions within an extensive network of countries and banks. The advisory services are provided under a separate IFC program that boosts lending to smaller businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa by investing in and providing advice to local banks.

“IFC puts a high priority on supporting smaller businesses and helping alleviate the burden of high food prices,” said Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Working with First Merchant Bank will enable IFC to better support the contributions of small businesses and agribusiness to Malawi’s economy.”

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit