Saturday, May 5, 2007


International Finance Corporation

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing countries as a way to reduce poverty and improve people's lives.

IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, DC. It shares the primary objective of all World Bank Group institutions: to improve the quality of the lives of people in its developing member countries. [1]

Established in 1956, IFC is the largest multilateral source of loan and equity financing for private sector projects in the developing world. It promotes sustainable private sector development primarily by:

1. Financing private sector projects located in the developing world.
2. Helping private companies in the developing world mobilize financing in international financial markets.
3. Providing advice and technical assistance to businesses and governments.

IFC has 179 member countries , which collectively determine its policies and approve investments. To join IFC, a country must first be a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). IFC's corporate powers are vested in its Board of Governors, to which member countries appoint representatives. IFC's share capital, which is paid in, is provided by its member countries, and voting is in proportion to the number of shares held. IFC's authorized capital (the sums contributed by its members over the years) is $2.45 billion; IFC's net worth (which includes authorized capital and retained earnings) is considerably larger and at the end of June, 2005, was $9.8 billion. [2]

The Board of Governors delegates many of its powers to the Board of Directors, which is composed of the Executive Directors of the IBRD, and which represents IFC's member countries. The Board of Directors reviews all projects.

The President of the World Bank Group, Paul Wolfowitz, also serves as IFC's president. IFC's Executive Vice President, Lars Thunell, is responsible for the overall management of day-to-day operations. He was appointed on January 15, 2006.

Although IFC coordinates its activities in many areas with the other institutions in the World Bank Group, IFC generally operates independently as it is legally and financially autonomous with its own Articles of Agreement, share capital, management and staff.

[edit] Funding of IFC's Activities

IFC's equity and quasi-equity investments are funded out of its net worth: the total of paid in capital and retained earnings. Strong shareholder support, triple-A ratings, and the substantial paid-in capital base have allowed IFC to raise funds for its lending activities on favorable terms in the international capital markets. Retained earnings now represent almost three-quarters of IFC's net worth of $9.8 billion (end-June 2006).

[edit] IFC Activities

Within the World Bank Group, the World Bank finances projects with sovereign guarantees, while the IFC finances projects without sovereign guarantees. This means that the IFC is primarily active in private sector projects, although some projects in the public sector (at the municipal or sub-national level) have recently been funded.

Private sector financing is IFC's main activity, and in this respect is a profit-oriented financial institution (and has never had an annual loss in its 50-year history). Like a bank, IFC lends or invests its own funds and borrowed funds to its customers and expects to make a sufficient risk-adjusted return on its global portfolio of projects.

IFC's activities, however, must meet a second test of contributing to a reduction in poverty in line with its mandate. In practice, this is broadly interpreted, but considerable time and effort is devoted to both (i) selecting projects with positive developmental outcomes, and (ii) improving the developmental outcome of projects by various means.

Apart from its core investment activities, IFC also carries out technical cooperation projects in many countries to improve the investment climate. These activities may be linked to a specific investment project, or, increasingly, to broader goals such as improving the legislative environment for a specific industry. IFC's technical cooperation projects are generally funded by donor countries or from IFC's own budget.


World Bank Group

The World Bank Group is a group of five international organizations responsible for providing finance and advice to countries for the purposes of economic development and eliminating poverty. The Bank came into formal existence on 27 December 1945 following international ratification of the Bretton Woods agreements, which emerged from the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference (1 July - 22 July 1944). Commencing operations on 25 June 1946, it approved its first loan on 9 May 1947 ($250m to France for postwar reconstruction, in real terms the largest loan issued by the Bank to date). Its five agencies are:

* International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
* International Finance Corporation (IFC)
* International Development Association (IDA)
* Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
* International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)

The World Bank's activities are focused on developing countries, in fields such as human development (e.g. education, health), agriculture and rural development (e.g. irrigation, rural services), environmental protection (e.g. pollution reduction, establishing and enforcing regulations), infrastructure (e.g. roads, urban regeneration, electricity), and governance (e.g. anti-corruption, legal institutions development). The IBRD and IDA provide loans at preferential rates to member countries, as well as grants to the poorest countries. Loans or grants for specific projects are often linked to wider policy changes in the sector or the economy. For example, a loan to improve coastal environmental management may be linked to development of new environmental institutions at national and local levels and to implementation of new regulations to limit pollution.

The activities of the IFC and MIGA include investment in the private sector and providing insurance respectively.

The World Bank Institute is the capacity development branch of the World Bank, providing learning and other capacity-building programs to member countries.