In Bangladesh, the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) sector faces a financing gap of $2.8 billion, according to IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. With nearly 10 million SMEs contributing to about 25 percent of the country's GDP, enhancing SME financing is key to boosting economic growth, it said on Tuesday (November 28, 2023). To explore the various aspects of financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh, IFC, in association with Bangladesh Bank and the government of Norway, organized a conference in Dhaka. Read: BTCCI to promote Bangladesh as 'gateway to South Asia' for Thailand Experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from across the world shared their insights to help foster a resilient and inclusive environment for SME financing in the country. The event touched upon the partnership between IFC and Bangladesh Bank, results of an impact assessment study carried out on women-owned SMEs, next-generation SME financing trends, and global best practices in SME financing. It also addressed the challenges and opportunities in SME financing, identifying solutions and innovations in light of global SME finance developments. Highlighting the joint efforts of IFC and Bangladesh Bank in SME financing, the conference showcased initiatives, including developing the country’s first Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS), reforming an SME finance policy, and strengthening the sector’s capacity. IFC’s impact study on CGS, supported by the Norwegian Embassy, revealed that the number of first-time borrowers receiving loans in cottage, micro, and small enterprises and the average ticket size of the loans for women-owned micro and small enterprises was statistically significantly higher after the launch of CGS than ever before. Women entrepreneurs who received CGS-backed loans reported that it helped their businesses survive amid crises and provided new impetus to thrive. Speaking at the conference as the chief guest, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Abdur Rouf Talukder, said that recognizing that cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) are the backbone of society, Bangladesh Bank is spearheading several initiatives to mainstream medium and small businesses into the financial landscape. "This includes establishing a new and dedicated Credit Guarantee Department that has already piloted an online platform—the Credit Guarantee Information Management System—to help lodge applications seamlessly. We are at an important crossroads of economic development and must ensure that everyone, especially those who often get left out, can be part of the financial picture," he said. Read: BGMEA chief for stepping up economic diplomacy to boost Bangladesh-US trade Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Abu Farah Md. Nasser, said a strong SME sector is akin to a superpower for creating jobs, export earnings, and productive proficiency. "Now more than ever, we need to work together to enhance credit guarantee schemes, tap into alternative databases for SME lending, and ultimately fast-track CMSME finance in Bangladesh. We want to bridge the gap between rich and poor, make sure men and women have equal opportunities, and boost economic growth across the country," he said. Martin Holtmann, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, said Bangladesh is rapidly accelerating its economic development, and creating more and better jobs is a priority they share with the country as long-term partners since 1985. "IFC’s collaboration with Bangladesh Bank to develop SME solutions highlights a milestone in achieving financial inclusion and economic advancement and underscores the transformative power of partnerships, innovation, and our collective commitment to progress. We aim to increase access to financial products that are affordable, sustainable, and responsive to risks while developing institutional, operational, and policy frameworks to ensure the benefits of economic growth permeate every facet of this dynamic nation,” he said. Espen Rikter-Svendsen, Ambassador of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bangladesh, said, “Lack of access to finance is the biggest impediment to the growth of SMEs in Bangladesh, particularly for the women-headed SMEs." Recognizing and addressing the challenges faced by SMEs and women entrepreneurs is not just a matter of economic significance but also a step towards fostering gender equality, he said. "It is essential to create an environment that facilitates easier access to finance for SMEs, encourages more women to take on entrepreneurial roles, and provides them with the necessary financial resources to succeed," said the ambassador. Other participants included Qamar Saleem, CEO of the SME Finance Forum; Abdoulaye Seck, Country Director of the World Bank for Bangladesh and Bhutan; and managing directors and CEOs of leading banking and non-banking financial institutions in Bangladesh. The event also included technical sessions and panel discussions focusing on global best practices and a future roadmap to accelerate the SME financing market in Bangladesh. Read more: BGMEA urges Proparco to provide SMEs with the low-cost fund, grant
International Finance Corporation (IFC) is providing BRAC Bank Limited a $50 million loan to aid small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment is set to contribute to the preservation of jobs and bring foreign exchange liquidity into BRAC Bank to help support the working capital and trade finance requirements of the bank’s SME importer and exporter clients. Also Read: New program by Australia, IFC to mobilise $50 million to support post-COVID inclusive growth in Bangladesh This investment, along with a similar loan to Prime Bank in February, will also send a positive signal to the market and contribute towards attracting additional international investors to support the foreign exchange financing needs of local banks and SMEs, IFC said. The financing package is part of IFC's $8 billion global COVID-19 fast-track financing facility to support companies during the ongoing public health crisis. This new investment comes under the Working Capital Solutions (WCS) program of the COVID-19 response envelope, which is providing $2 billion globally to emerging-market banks, enabling them to support struggling firms. This project will also be supported by the International Development Association's Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility, which is also rendering aid to IFC's WCS program. BRAC Bank is Bangladesh’s third-largest private bank and the only SME-focused bank in the country. Also Read: First project under IFC’s Global Food Security Platform to tackle food insecurity in Bangladesh "Our SME and corporate clients continue to confront challenges arising from the disruptive effects of COVID-19. The insufficient availability of foreign exchange has additionally impeded their regular trading operations," said Selim R. F. Hussain, the Managing Director and CEO of BRAC Bank. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global economic slowdown, influenced by a series of factors, including geo-political events. “IFC has been supporting the banking sector in export-driven economies like Bangladesh, which have been facing declines in foreign exchange reserves due to various macroeconomic and geopolitical headwinds,” said Joon Young Park, IFC’s Portfolio Manager for South Asia. Also Read: Prime Bank receives $50m from IFC to support trade, forex liquidity needs in Bangladesh "IFC plans to continue providing its steadfast support to key banking partners in Bangladesh who have significant SME portfolios, such as BRAC, with whom IFC has had equity and debt commitments over the past 19 years.” IFC has invested more than $3.6 billion to promote the growth of the private sector in Bangladesh since 2010, thereby creating job opportunities for the country's citizens. And since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, IFC has provided over $360 million in working capital solutions and liquidity support to banks and companies in Bangladesh. Also Read: IFC giving $32.5 million to ensure food security in Bangladesh "After three long years of grappling with the impact of the pandemic, businesses in Bangladesh continue to face challenging market conditions,” said Martin Holtmann, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. “By supporting BRAC Bank, we are continuing our efforts to help Bangladesh recover and foster a resilient post-pandemic economic landscape.” Also Read: Implement Teesta Project to save people from manmade disasters: IFC
To support export and import-based businesses in coping with global uncertainties induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, International Finance Corporation (IFC) is providing $50 million to Prime Bank Limited in Bangladesh. This IFC funding will support working capital, trade finance, and foreign exchange liquidity needs of export and import based entities borrowing through Prime Bank’s Offshore Banking unit. The financing package is part of IFC’s “Fast Track Covid-19 Facility” – a package designed to support countries and private sectors to cope with the impacts of the pandemic under the Working Capital Solutions (WCS) program, according to a media release issued on Monday. Read More: IFC giving $32.5 million to ensure food security in Bangladesh IFC has provided a total of $310 million in working capital solutions to banks in Bangladesh and liquidity support to companies since the beginning of the pandemic, including this latest funding to Prime Bank. Since 2010, IFC has invested over $3.6 billion to help the private sector in Bangladesh grow.This IFC engagement with Prime Bank will also be supported by the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility. Commercial banks are the largest providers of working capital and foreign exchange trade finance support to manufacturing and infrastructure businesses, key drivers of Bangladesh’s economy.Unexpected turbulence in the global markets has restrained foreign exchange liquidity in the market. Read More: IFC pledges $6 billion to tackle food insecurity. With this funding, Prime Bank is expected to extend loans to its export and import-based customers, helping keep businesses afloat, resume exports and preserve jobs. “IFC’s support reflect resilience of Bangladesh economy and confidence in Prime Bank. IFC has been a valuable partner of Prime Bank since 2014 and this relationship helps us to significantly expand our OBU business. We are really thankful to IFC for its continued support. This fresh funding of USD 50 million targeted for SME clients will help us to grow SME portfolio of the bank,” said Managing Director & CEO of Prime Bank, Hassan O. Rashid. “It is clear the impacts of Covid-19 are still being felt by a number of businesses in Bangladesh’s key industries, effectively constraining their operating ability,” said Allen Forlemu, Regional Industry Director, Financial Institutions Group, IFC. “This funding package is designed specifically to help ensure businesses in Bangladesh can continue to trade and have access to working capital, helping them maintain operations and preserve jobs. Small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of the country, and have been particularly impacted by the pandemic, are expected to benefit the most from this IFC funding.” Read More: IFC-led PaCT helped factories cut carbon and water footprints: BGMEA.
To improve food security in Bangladesh at a time of rising commodity prices amid a global shortfall of staple crops, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is providing $32.5 million loan to Singapore-based agricultural commodity-trading company Agrocorp International Pte Ltd, which is a leading supplier of wheat and pulses to Bangladesh. According to IFC, the largest global development institution which is focused on the private sector in emerging markets, is providing an eight-year financing package consisting of a senior secured loan of up to $18 million as well as a concessional loan of $14.5 million from the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility. At a time when trade financing has been constrained globally amid price instability, the investment will allow Agrocorp to buy and deliver millions of tonnes of wheat and pulses from Australia and Canada to Bangladesh, providing safe, nutritious, and calorie-rich staples to the country at a time of heightened food insecurity. These staples are sold to millers and food processors, which depend on them to produce basic foods for the Bangladeshi population, a media statement by IFC said. Read more: Bangladesh Bank forms Tk 5000cr refinance scheme to ensure food security “Agrocorp plays an important role in addressing food security in Asia, which has become more vital with all the recent shocks in global food-supply chains,” said Vijay Iyengar, Chairman and Managing Director, Agrocorp International. “We are delighted to be partnering with IFC for this loan, which will allow us to scale up our work to provide an even stronger platform to secure food supplies for emerging markets such as Bangladesh,” he said. “We are pleased that IFC is able to provide financial support for Agrocorp to reinforce its position in global food supply chains, and in this instance to serve the markets in Bangladesh during these challenging times”, said Geoffrey Yeo, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Singapore. “We are glad that Singapore’s role as a global trade hub has enabled companies like Agrocorp to play an important role in managing global food supplies” he said. Read more: PMO counting on success of upcoming food security programs The war in Ukraine has exacerbated food inflation globally, sparked high and volatile energy and fertilizer prices and restrictive trade policies, and has also worsened supply-chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wheat has been particularly affected, as Ukraine and Russia have traditionally accounted for over a quarter of the global-trade volumes. In addition, about a quarter of Bangladesh’s population of 165 million people face food insecurity due to the impacts of climate change and the rising frequency of natural hazards, such as flooding caused by monsoon rains. This convergence of crises threatens to drive more people into extreme poverty, magnify hunger and malnutrition, and erase hard-won development gains in the country. “This investment ensures the supply of essential raw materials to food producers and processors in Bangladesh, allowing the availability of safe, nutritious, and calorie-rich staple foods to be available”, said Hector Gomez Ang, Regional Director for South Asia, IFC. “ The IFC investment is in line with a new $6 billion Global Food Security Platform (GFSP), which aims to mobilise private investment to address the deterioration in food security, particularly in the world’s most vulnerable countries. Since 2010, IFC has invested over $3.6 billion to help private sector growth in Bangladesh.
The World Bank’s private sector arm International Financial Corporation (IFC) has launched a fresh $6 billion financing facility to strengthen the private sector's ability to respond to food insecurity crisis and help support production in countries affected by food instability, a statement said Tuesday. A core part of the financing, which will be provided through the new Global Food Security Platform, will support sustainable production and delivery of food stocks, it said. The $6 billion will be used to support private sector companies along the food value chain by leveraging IFC's sectoral expertise in agribusiness, manufacturing, infrastructure, and technology, as well as the financial sector and trade finance. Read IFC-led PaCT helped factories cut carbon and water footprints: BGMEA "By strengthening supply chains and ensuring that people have access to and can grow affordable food, this initiative will contribute to building resilient food systems in the most vulnerable regions," said Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director. The war in Ukraine and an uneven global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic have added to rising levels of hunger and malnourishment, which already have been worsened by climate change and increasingly severe weather events that are damaging harvests and reducing yields. The Platform will supplement the World Bank's commitment of US$30 billion in response to the food crisis as IFC is also stepping up engagements with other partners, including development finance institutions, foundations, banks as well as a range of private companies. Read Patenga Container Terminal: PPPA signs transaction advisory services agreement with IFC The $6 billion support will be aimed at facilitating trade of food commodities, delivery of inputs to farmers, supporting efficient production in major origins, including Ukraine, and effective distribution of food products in destination countries, according to the statement.The money will also help improve the resilience of the global food system and lessen its climate and ecological footprint. This includes investing in increasing efficient crop production, improving access to fertilizers, greening fertilizer production and use, reducing crop loss and food waste, improving supply chain efficiency, and mitigating infrastructure bottlenecks. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets including Bangladesh. In fiscal year 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries. Read Implement Teesta management and restoration master plan: IFC
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has said the International Finance Corporation (IFC)-led Advisory Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT) has helped participating factories cut carbon and water footprints. PaCT is a holistic programme that supports the entire textile value chain – spinning, weaving, wet processing and garment factories in adopting cleaner production practices and engages with brands, technology suppliers, industrial associations, financial institutions, government to bring about systemic and positive environmental change for the Bangladesh textile sector and contribute to the sector's long-term competitiveness and environmental sustainability. BGMEA President Faruque Hassan thanked the IFC for its continued support for the apparel industry over the past few decades. Read: Bangladesh, Indonesia need to work together as partners: BGMEA chief Nishat Chowdhury, programme manager of PaCT, paid a visit to Faruque in Dhaka Sunday. They had discussions about the progress of the ongoing projects which are being implemented by the BGMEA with the financial support of IFC for the development of the RMG industry. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has already funded several studies for the apparel sector to explore its opportunities and ways to realise them. One of the studies aims to identify the potential scope of non-cotton textile and apparel for Bangladesh in the global apparel market and formulate a strategy to develop the country's overall competitiveness and strength in the area. Another study is being conducted on the readymade garment (RMG) sector's recovery roadmap.
The International Farakka Committee (IFC) has urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to pursue Teesta water sharing and renewal of Ganges treaty earnestly with guarantees and arbitration clauses during her upcoming talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a statement issued on Saturday, IFC, which campaigns for Bangladesh’s fair share of water from the trans-boundary rivers with India, said that the Kushiara River’s water sharing is not a priority for Bangladesh, and its inclusion in JRC talks indicates the eagerness of the Indian side to divert attention from the Teesta issue. Before signing the proposed MOU on the Kushiara, Bangladesh should ask for the long-awaited treaty on the Teesta to be signed, they said. Also read: Surma, Kushiara rivers to be dredged to restore navigability: FM IFC leaders said since abandoning the Tipaimukh Dam project at the instance of India's central Forest Advisory Committee for over half a decade, India has refrained from any interventions on the Barak river system from where two tributaries, the Surma and the Kushiara, flow into the Meghna in Bangladesh. Out of 54 common rivers that flow into Bangladesh from India, 52 have already been embanked. Intervention on the Kushiara would adversely affect Bangladesh's third largest river, the Meghna, and the haors of the greater Sylhet area, the IFC said as a note of caution. For Bangladesh, the most burning issue is Teesta water which has been entirely diverted from the Gazal Doba barrage in West Bengal for about two decades, rendering the Bangladesh part of the river completely dry in violation of international law and practice, with adverse environmental consequences for 3 crore Bangladeshis living in its basin. The 30-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, which will end in 2026, on the other hand has not ensured the availability of adequate water to Bangladesh. The treaty needs to be updated with guarantees and arbitration clauses that India has in its water treaties with Nepal and Pakistan, the IFC leaders said. They said Bangladesh should pursue integrated basin-wide management of common rivers to keep the natural systems alive instead of artificially dividing those at man-made political borders. When dams and embankments on rivers are being demolished in the rest of the world, these cannot be built afresh on our common rivers. Also read: Implement Teesta management and restoration master plan: IFC The signatories to the statement are: Atiqur Rahman Salu, Chairman and Sayed Tipu Sultan, Secretary General, IFC New York, Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, President, Dr. SI Khan, Senior Vice President, Syed Erfanul Bari, IFC Bangladesh; and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Convener IFC.
The Public Private Partnership Authority (PPPA) signed a transaction advisory services agreement on Patenga Container Terminal with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Saturday in Dhaka. The "Equip, Operate and Maintenance of Patenga Container Terminal" deal was signed at the Prime Minister's Office in the presence of Ahmad Kaikaus, prime minister's principal secretary and chairman of the PPPA, and Shipping Secretary Md Mostafa Kamal, according to a media statement. Read: Colocity brings Microsoft Azure stack hub hybrid cloud to Bangladesh Muhammad Ibrahim, chief executive officer of PPPA, and Nuzhat Anwar, acting country manager of IFC, signed the agreement. Also, Chittagong Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Mohammad Shahjahan signed a letter agreement with Nuzhat. Read IFC, BRAC Bank to launch Bangladesh’s first ever housing bond
To help sustain and create jobs, improve services for people and protect small and medium sized enterprises, IFC committed about $2 billion in the South Asian region in the past fiscal year, ending June 2022, with a key focus on helping countries recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The release of the figures comes as Ruth Horowitz assumes the role of IFC’s Regional Vice President for Asia and the Pacific – covering both South and East Asia as well as the Pacific – taking over from Alfonso Garcia Mora, who is now IFC’s Regional Vice President for Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. “I am very excited to join the region and to work closely with its fantastic staff, clients and stakeholders, and look forward to building on the region’s strong history of impactful private sector engagements”, said Ruth Horowitz, IFC’s Vice President for Asia and the Pacific, on Monday. Horowitz is a global investment professional with over 30 years of experience. Most recently, she served as the Vice President of IFC’s Equity Mobilization Division – IFC Asset Management Company (AMC), which has raised over $10 billion from investors across 13 funds. Prior to joining IFC as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of AMC, Horowitz worked for Lehman Brothers. With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to linger, IFC again stepped up with crucial financial support aimed at helping the region rebuild. Read: IFC blames flood disaster on unplanned development Bangladesh and India’s Meghalaya, Assam IFC delivered $237 million in FY22 in long-term finance in COVID-response deals on top of its short-term finance to help local exporters and importers, including contributing to increased food and commodities trade. Overall, from FY20 to FY22, IFC has committed over $1 billion as part of its COVID-19 response in the region. “With about $2 billion committed in the South Asia region in the past year, IFC’s work has enabled the private sector to deliver solutions to help people and businesses weather multiple challenges,” said IFC’s Regional Director for South Asia, Hector Gomez Ang. “The innovation and expertise of the private sector is needed now more than ever as countries build the pathways to a resilient, sustainable future.” As with other regions, South Asia remains vulnerable to the impacts of a warming planet, conflict and geopolitical tensions, and rising global inflation. As Vice President for Asia and the Pacific, Horowitz signaled that helping countries achieve their climate goals, while meeting needs for renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure will be among key priorities going forward. "Already soaring food, energy, and fertilizer prices, exacerbated by both the war in Ukraine and erratic weather events are threatening to reverse decades of development gains, making the task ahead even more urgent," said Horowitz. “However, the right mix of private sector innovation, public sector policy, and availability of financing can not only boost South Asia’s resilience to future shocks but also help transform the region for the better.” “The threat the region faces in terms of the climate crisis is profound but there are also immense opportunities, underscored by the trillions of dollars in capital that’s waiting to be deployed in green investments. IFC is uniquely placed to work with the private sector to identify solutions that not only help decarbonize economies but also meet the pressing development challenges facing this region. I look forward to strengthening and developing new partnerships in taking on this exciting role across the Asia Pacific region.” END/UNB/MK/FH/1039 Hrs
Thousands of low and middle-income urban and rural families in Bangladesh are expected to be able to take out affordable housing loans through IFC’s investment in the country’s first housing bond to be issued by BRAC Bank. In a first for the country, IFC will make a subscription of up to $50 million-equivalent Bangladeshi taka (BDT) denominated, five-year senior bond by BRAC Bank to fund and expand its affordable housing finance program. Through this initiative, IFC and BRAC Bank jointly aim to demonstrate a commercially viable lending product that caters to the housing finance needs of households belonging to low and middle-income household, promote inclusive development and create thousands of new jobs. Read: Meta partners with BRAC to empower Bangladeshi women, youth online The move is expected to create thousands of new jobs in construction and related industries, according to International Finance Corporation (IFC). It is estimated about 80 percent of people in Bangladesh’s cities live in rented properties all their lives, mostly due to lack of mortgage finance. Home mortgages only account for three percent of the loan market in Bangladesh, below the average of 4.9 percent in South Asia and 8.9 percent in emerging markets. Read: UNDP to work with BRAC for accelerating pace of poverty reduction Most financial institutions focus on providing housing finance to the higher-income people, while access to formal housing loans for low and middle-income segments is very limited. This causes a surplus in premium housing and a shortage of both housing finance and housing units for low and middle-income people. “This marks a whole new strategic priority for BRAC Bank, since our establishment in 2001, with our goal then to improve access to finance for underserved small and medium enterprises. We, along with IFC, recognize that far too many low and middle-income earners simply cannot access the funds they need to buy a home. Now people of semi urban areas can also fulfill their dream of owning a house with our affordable home mortgage facilities,” said Selim R. F. Hussain, BRAC Bank Managing Director and CEO. Read IFC blames flood disaster on unplanned development Bangladesh and India’s Meghalaya, Assam As an investor in the first ever privately placed housing bond issuance in Bangladesh, IFC will help deepen the country’s long term bond market which remains underdeveloped. The project was supported by the Joint Capital Markets Program (J-CAP), a World Bank Group initiative to develop debt capital markets. IFC’s work upstream with J-CAP efforts involved supporting BRAC Bank in structuring and laying the groundwork for the first ever housing finance bond in Bangladesh. Read Take initiative for basin-wide management of all rivers including Teesta: IFC The investment is also supported by the local currency facility of the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window through a US dollar/BDT cross-currency swap to facilitate local currency lending. “This innovative deal marks an important milestone in the development of the domestic long-term bond market and offers multiple benefits for Bangladesh, with first and foremost helping to tackle the acute need of low and middle-income people to obtain affordable housing finance. It is also the first time that a foreign investor plans to invest in an onshore local currency bond to be issued by a local private institution to finance housing. It then demonstrates opportunities for new foreign and local investors to invest in such thematic bonds in the domestic corporate bond market,” said Allen Forlemu, IFC Regional Industry Director, Financial Institutions Group, Asia and Pacific. Read IFC to increase investments in Bangladesh in next 5 yrs