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IFC and Ecobank to Increase Loans to Smaller and Women-Owned Businesses

Dakar, February 9, 2009— IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced that it will provide advisory services to Ecobank Group subsidiaries in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal to help them provide products and services that better meet the needs of small and medium enterprises and businesses operated by women.
The agreement is the latest in a series between IFC and Ecobank, which have enjoyed a longstanding relationship in facilitating commerce and economic development across Africa. In August 2008, IFC signed an agreement to guarantee the underlying trade transactions of Ecobank Senegal, covering payment risk and helping increase Senegal’s global trade volumes.  
“Working with IFC will greatly increase our capacity to facilitate trade between Senegal and other countries and will allow us to support small and medium enterprises, and in particular women entrepreneurs,” said Ehouman Kassi, Managing Director of Ecobank Senegal.
The two institutions are also working together to enhance regional trade and increase financing for critical sectors of Africa’s economy, including agribusiness, health, education, and infrastructure.
“Building a strong financial sector with partners like Ecobank that can support Africa’s development is an important part of IFC’s effort to help alleviate poverty,” said IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Lars Thunell. “Working with Ecobank’s extensive network will enable IFC to have a stronger impact on promoting trade and supporting smaller businesses in West Africa.”
Thunell was in Senegal to convene a meeting of IFC’s global management team and inaugurate IFC’s Dakar office as its new hub for West and Central Africa. The meeting reflects IFC’s commitment to doing more in Africa and a global strategy to get closer to clients by bringing more staff and resources to different parts of the world.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC's vision is that people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit .