IFC Africa (International Finance Corporation) - Creating markets, creating opportunities

IFC's strategy for the promotion of sustainable private investment in Sub-Saharan Africa is built on three pillars:
- Improving the investment climate
- Enhancing support to small and medium enterprises
- Developing projects more proactively in sectors including infrastructure and agribusiness

Emphasis on these key areas has allowed us to expand rapidly over recent years. Our commitments in Africa have grown from $445 million in FY05 to $2.4 billion in FY10, the first time our investments have surpassed the $2 billion mark.

1. Improving the Investment Climate
Private investors must have the right environment to operate – transparent, robust institutions, and an efficient and clear business regulatory environment. A key part of IFC's strategy in Africa centers on providing technical assistance and advisory services for identifying and tackling barriers to sustainable private investment.

These services, for example, include the unique Doing Business indicator project, and the ability to leverage our relationship with the World Bank Group through the joint Foreign Investment Advisory Service and Investment Climate Surveys. APDF's provision of technical assistance to governments in Africa to create a more business enabling environment for SMEs, and encourage public-private sector dialogue on investment climate.

2. Enhanced Support to Small & Medium Enterprises
Small and medium enterprises are the bedrock of the African private sector. Unlocking their full potential is critical to maximizing private sector output and job creation.

In partnership with the private sector, governments, and donors, IFC's Private Enterprise Partnership for Africa serves as the main vehicle for the design, management, and implementation of technical assistance programs for SMEs. Donors will primarily fund implementation costs. Programs underway include: Provision of business advisory services, capacity building and training to SMEs throughout Sub-Saharan Africa to foster entrepreneurship development and strengthen SME competitiveness.

IFC Africa is also implementing other innovative solutions to enhance its support to SMEs. They include:
- Establishing new partnerships with IDA, the World Bank's concessional lending arm
- Expanding IFC's Linkages Program so that local SMEs can better benefit from investments in their locality
- Piloting IFC-branded SME Solutions Centers which provide an integrated storefront of support services to SMEs

3. Proactive Project Development
Many IFC Africa-supported projects have been the first of their kind in the country, requiring new regulatory and institutional frameworks. IFC's strategy for promoting sustainable private investment in Africa therefore places emphasis on more intensive engagement with the private sector, sovereign institutions, and other parts of the World Bank Group early on in the project cycle.


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