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IFC Helps Expand Access to Microfinance for Low Income People and Micro Enterprises in Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, February 19, 2014 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping microfinance institutions expand their reach to more rural and urban poor, especially micro enterprises, who need financing to raise incomes, expand their businesses, and create jobs.  
Under the cooperation agreements signed today, IFC will help three leading local microfinance institutions—Pact Global Microfinance Fund, Proximity Designs, and World Vision International – Myanmar— deliver sustainable services by introducing microfinance best practices, enhancing the capacities of their management and operations, designing financial products, and training staff.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with IFC on this project,” said James Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Proximity Designs. “IFC’s global experience in financial inclusion and Proximity’s in-depth knowledge of Myanmar will be a winning combination for building our institution and contributing to the development of the microfinance sector in Myanmar.”
Through the cooperation, IFC aims to help expand financial services to the overwhelming majority of micro entrepreneurs whose demand for financing exceeds supply by four times, as found by a recent study conducted by IFC and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor.
“IFC's training support will deepen management capacity over the short and long term,” said Neal Youngquist, Microfinance Program General Manager at World Vision International – Myanmar. “This will help to continue quality growth in client outreach and services."
IFC’s support is part of its strategy to promote an enabling environment where the microfinance sector can develop sustainably. IFC will also provide support to enhance the capacity of other industry players and help develop a microfinance network that promotes sound and responsible practices.
“Despite the high demand in the market, the microfinance industry in Myanmar is still at an early stage. Now is the right time for IFC to bring its substantial experience in developing microfinance markets, and promoting the sustainable expansion of existing microfinance institutions,” said Rachel Freeman, IFC Manager for Access to Finance Advisory Program in East Asia and the Pacific. “We believe our assistance to these three institutions will not only enhance their capacities, but also bring a demonstration effect in the market that affordable microfinance services can be delivered in a sustainable manner in Myanmar, ultimately increasing access to finance for both the urban and rural poor.”
Working with the government and financial sector to improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises and to increase financial inclusion through microfinance is one of IFC’s priorities in Myanmar. IFC’s first investment in the country helped set up a new microfinance institution, which has provided more than $3.5 million in nearly 9,000 loans to individuals and micro businesses in just one year.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in more than 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In FY13, our investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
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About Pact Global Microfinance Fund
Pact Global Microfinance Fund is the oldest and largest microfinance institution operating in Myanmar and almost exclusively serves micro entrepreneurs and farmers in rural areas. PGMF currently has over 550,000 active loan clients with over $92 million in outstanding loans. PGMF also provides its clients with savings services, business training, and a social safety net product that safeguards clients from undue burdens due to death or natural disaster. PGMF has been operating in Myanmar since 1997.
About Proximity Designs
Proximity, established in Myanmar in 2004, is an award-winning social impact enterprise, providing income-boosting products and services to rural smallholders, including irrigation and energy products, farming advisory services, and most recently, microloans. Currently, Proximity products and services generate additional income for more than 180,000 rural households across Myanmar.
About World Vision International – Myanmar
World Vision International – Myanmar has provided microfinance services to Myanmar’s poor since 1998.   With a client base of over 30,000 and a portfolio exceeding $4.3 million, World Vision reaches a diverse range of microfinance clients including small entrepreneurs, farmers, and parents of school-aged children through various business and education financing services.