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Annual Report

Annual Report > Previous Annual Reports  > 2012 Online Report  > Leadership Perspectives 

Message from Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank Group President, 2007–2012

India's Rural Women

The past five years have been a time of testing for the World Bank Group and our ability to respond to the needs of our clients. Developing and developed countries have been challenged by the triple threat of the food, fuel, and financial crises.

They’ve faced hunger, poverty, joblessness, and debt—an economic, social, and human crisis with political implications. Through these difficult times, the World Bank Group has stepped up to support our clients with flexibility, speed, innovation, and a focus on results. Out of challenge, we have looked for opportunity and hope.

The World Bank Group’s shareholders have supported our priorities and performance with first-rate financial support. In 2007 and 2010, two record-breaking IDA replenishments raised more than $90 billion. In 2010, shareholders backed the IBRD’s first capital increase in more than 20 years. Today, we have a well-resourced Bank with a triple-A rating.

We have been modernizing multilateralism for a world economy with multiple poles of growth, and democratizing development through greater openness and accountability, sharing knowledge and information. We are laying the foundations for expanding social accountability, fighting corruption, and building better governance. We have maintained our focus on the poor in all regions, especially Africa, emphasizing the need for fiscally responsible human safety nets to protect the most vulnerable. At the same time, we have customized new products for the middle-income countries that are increasingly important drivers of growth. Our agenda has included gender equality, food security, climate change and biodiversity, infrastructure investment, disaster prevention, financial innovation, and inclusion.

The World Bank Group has paid special attention to the central role of the private sector in development. We are supporting the enabling environment for investment and private sector activity, extending financing to small and medium businesses and microfinance, supporting trade finance, promoting greater attention to public-private partnerships, and encouraging investment in countries that need it the most—especially conflict-affected and fragile states.

IFC is central to these efforts. By building productive private sectors, the Corporation is spurring growth, creating jobs, and solving problems in poor and middle-income countries. IFC is about helping entrepreneurs achieve dreams, while enriching their communities. IFC’s work makes businesses and countries more resilient when crises hit, arming them to take on the toughest development challenges—from climate change to food security to creating wealth and incomes.

In FY12, IFC provided more than $20 billion in financing, including nearly $5 billion mobilized from partners. Under the leadership of Lars Thunell, IFC has put the poorest countries and regions at the heart of its strategy. Almost half of new projects this year were in IDA countries, where IFC can make the greatest difference. In FY12, IFC invested nearly $6 billion in 283 projects in 58 IDA countries.

In the Middle East and North Africa, a region in turmoil and transition, IFC is boosting small businesses’ access to finance, making sure young people can get job skills that match the needs of the market, and funding long-neglected infrastructure needs. Since the Arab transformation began in 2011, IFC has invested more than $2 billion in the region.

IFC has also ramped up its activities in short-term finance, which is essential for trade to flow smoothly between countries and critical commodities to remain affordable. This work offers a big boost to development and open markets with relatively little risk.

IFC Asset Management Company demonstrates how an innovative idea can quickly reap benefits in developing economies. AMC is creating new channels to mobilize capital: it currently has $4.5 billion under management, almost $3 billion of which comes from outside investors that have had little exposure to emerging markets.

Lars Thunell is also closing out his term as IFC Executive Vice President and CEO. IFC’s successes in recent years reflect his vision, creativity, and drive for private sector development. He has been a valued partner and counselor in the leadership of the World Bank Group.

 

ROBERT B. ZOELLICK
World Bank Group President

June 30, 2012

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