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IFC Offers Incentives for Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises and Women-Led Business

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2020 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is boosting its response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic by offering new incentives for financial institutions to provide loans to SMEs in the poorest countries and to women entrepreneurs across all emerging markets.
Under the new initiative, up to $215 million in blended finance support will be available to encourage working-capital loans in low-income countries eligible for support under the International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window (PSW). Support from the IDA PSW will be in the form of pooled first-loss guarantees to support approximately $860 million in new working capital loans to SMEs in critical need of additional short-term liquidity to continue operating during the pandemic.
In addition, as part of IFC’s Banking on Women business, up to $2.4 million will be provided as performance-based incentives to financial institutions that agree to earmark at least 20 percent of working-capital loan proceeds for lending to women customers and women-led enterprises. These funds will be provided by the Global SME Finance Facility, the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF)—a partnership between IFC and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women —and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).
“The COVID-19 crisis is having a severe impact in the world’s poorest countries, which have limited fiscal resources and capacity to cope with the pandemic’s economic devastation,” said Martin Spicer, Director of Blended Finance at IFC. “Blended concessional finance through the IDA PSW can help IFC expand its reach in these difficult markets while the performance-based incentives will help bring more capital to women-owned enterprises, who have been disproportionately impacted by the crisis.”
Countries eligible for IDA PSW support are largely concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where the outbreak has resulted in the expectation of the first recession in the region in 25 years. Small businesses provide the bulk of the continent’s jobs and are being hit particularly hard during the crisis.
“We’re seeing an unprecedented demand for working-capital loans in low-income countries – where commercial lending was already severely constrained. With the de-risking provided by blended finance resources, IFC will be able to better address the liquidity needs of the companies and small businesses that are so critical to these economies,” said Paulo de Bolle, Senior Director of IFC’s Financial Institutions Group. “This initiative provides new ammunition in the effort to help small businesses and women entrepreneurs confront the COVID-19 pandemic.”
About IFC
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2019, we invested more than $19 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit .
About the IDA Private Sector Window
As part of the record $75 billion IDA18 replenishment, the World Bank Group created the $2.5 billion IDA Private Sector Window to catalyze private sector investment in the poorest and most fragile countries. Recognizing the key role of the private sector in achieving IDA18 objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals, the window provides concessional funds for co-investment alongside IFC and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) private investments. Concessional funds help to mitigate risk and reduce barriers, which unlocks and crowds in private investment in emerging markets. For more information, visit:
About Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women is an initiative to foster economic growth by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with a business and management education and access to capital. The initiative has reached women from over 100 countries through a network of over academic, nonprofit, and bank partners. In partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women launched the first of its kind global finance facility in 2014 to enable access to capital to more women entrepreneurs. And now, by leveraging technology the 10,000 Women curriculum is available online through Coursera, creating access to a business education in more corners of the world.  For more information on Goldman Sachs’ investment in female entrepreneurs, visit
About We-Fi
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership among fourteen governments and six multilateral development banks. Housed in the World Bank Group, We-Fi seeks to unlock billions of dollars in financing to tackle the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology, and mentoring, while strengthening policy and legal and regulatory frameworks. As one of the We-Fi implementing partners, IFC supports private sector clients with investments and advisory services to expand financial services and market access for women-owned/led firms, as well as increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to run high-growth businesses. For more information, visit
About Global SME Finance Facility
The Global SME Finance Facility is a blended-finance and advisory services partnership among IFC, the UK Department for International Development, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Facility is focused on helping to close the financing gap faced by SMEs in emerging markets. By providing investment and advisory services to financial institutions, it helps them expand lending to SMEs in challenging markets and segments. The Facility was launched in 2012 in response to a G-20 call for expediting SME financing and growth. It aims to generate one million new jobs in the SME sector.
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