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IFC CEO Lars Thunell Announces Commitment to Burundi’s SMEs, Economic Growth

Bujumbura, Burundi, May 14 2012 – IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Lars Thunell has affirmed IFC’s commitment to supporting smaller businesses in Burundi, signing an agreement to roll out the Business Edge™ training program in the country, where it will help entrepreneurs gain the skills they need to succeed. IFC is a member of the World Bank Group.
During his first visit to Burundi as IFC Vice President, Thunell met with Thérance Sinunguruza,the First Vice President of the Republic of Burundi, other government officials, private sector representatives, and some of IFC’s development partners in the country. During these meetings, Thunell discussed ways Burundi can strengthen its economy, particularly in the power, transport, and agriculture sectors.
IFC’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Jean Philippe Prosper, accompanied Thunell on his visit.  
Thunell said, “IFC is backing Burundi’s efforts to strengthen and reform its private sector so it can increase growth and job creation. We are committed to helping Burundi build a strong, private sector-led economy in key sectors such as power, transport and agribusiness, so the country can achieve lasting stability and growth.”
Thunell signed the Business Edge agreement with four trainers that were selected by IFC. The agreement will expand the availability of the Business Edge program in Burundi, with the goal of reaching hundreds of smaller businesses working with banks, telecoms companies, and other large institutions.
Business Edge, which has trained more than 100,000 entrepreneurs in Africa, provides courses in marketing, finance, operations, and other areas.
Thunell also formally launched IFC’s office in Burundi, which will oversee all programs, including IFC’s Conflict Affected States in Africa Initiative. CASA is helping Burundi improve its investment climate, increase small business growth, and strengthen financial institutions.
IFC’s advisory services support helped Burundi enact a number of reforms to its business climate in 2011, making it easier to start a business, register property, and obtain construction permits.
Thanks to these reforms, Burundi was ranked the seventh most improved economy in the world and jumped eight places in the 2012 edition of the IFC’s and World Bank’s Doing Business Report, which ranks the ease of doing business in countries around the world.
IFC is also committed to investing in Burundi, and made a $5.5 million investment in November, 2011 to develop a 138-room Hilton Hotel in Bujumbura. The hotel will help improve the country’s essential business infrastructure by providing international-standard rooms and conference facilities.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit .
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