San Pedro Sula, Honduras, March 28, 2011—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, has agreed to assist ODEF Financiera
S.A, Honduras’ largest microfinance institution in terms of number of
clients reached, in expanding financial services to impoverished regions
of the country, and to women in particular.
The project seeks to update ODEF’s strategic
plan for the next five years and strengthen its risk unit.
This effort will help ODEF grow in a sustainable
way, with special emphasis on women microentrepreneurs who account for
61 percent of the company’s portfolio. The initiative benefits from the
financial support of the Dutch government, through the Netherlands-IFC
General Manager of ODEF, said, “This advisory project with IFC will help
us strengthen further our credit risk management tools and expand our services,
so that we can provide desperately needed financial services to a majority
of Honduras’ low-income households and microentrepreneurs.“
In Honduras, micro and small enterprises
generate more than 60 percent of employment, but 80 percent of them have
never received a loan. This sector is a vital engine for jobs creation
and economic development in a country with high levels of poverty and unequal
distribution of wealth and debilitating unemployment.
Greta Bull, IFC Advisory Services Program
Manager in Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “IFC seeks to help poor
people in underserved regions gain access to financial services by providing
advisory services to help local financial institutions expand their reach
in a strong and sustainable way. ODEF’s focus on low-income woman is well
aligned with IFC’s strategy in the region.”
This initiative is part of IFC’s Access
to Finance program that helps financial institutions in Central America
diversify their product portfolios, improve efficiency, reduce costs, and
strengthen risk management and corporate governance practices. IFC plans
to expand its advisory services to agrifinance, mobile money transactions,
and sustainable energy finance, and help expand financial services to underserved
sectors and regions.