Fresh Ideas About Business in Emerging Markets

IFC combines six decades of experience with current expertise to share evolving concepts of development finance, from bond markets to blended finance and beyond, in a series of thought pieces and case studies.

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From Farm to Fork: Private Enterprise Can Reduce Food Loss Through Climate Smart Agriculture
Publish Date: 10/26/17

From Farm to Fork: Private Enterprise Can Reduce Food Loss Through Climate Smart Agriculture

More than a billion tons of food are lost annually across global food supply chains. Spillage, spoilage, insects, and rodents are the causes. Addressing it is a daunting challenge due to the complexity of the many factors involved. But it is a worthwhile challenge because of the potential benefits, including improved food security, nutrition, economic productivity, and response to climate change. Poor or nonexistent public infrastructure is often an underlying cause of food not being transported or processed effectively. And climate change damages existing infrastructure and increases losses. Despite the numerous environmental, economic, and socio-cultural barriers involved, there are many examples of private sector enterprises that have tackled post-harvest loss successfully. They focus on education, collaboration, and markets.

English | 8 Pages - October - Note 47 | IFC, 2017

Precision Farming Enables Climate-Smart Agribusiness
Publish Date: 10/26/17

Precision Farming Enables Climate-Smart Agribusiness

Emerging market countries can benefit from advanced farming technologies that mitigate the effects of climate change and protect environmental resources. Water scarcity is an issue that can be overcome by adopting climate-smart technologies such as micro-irrigation. There are several precision agriculture investment opportunities available to the private sector, including agricultural extension via digital advisory services, drip irrigation, solar pumps, and crop and soil monitoring.

English | 5 Pages - October - Note 46 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 10/12/17

Blockchain: Opportunities for Private Enterprises in Emerging Markets

IFC worked with key influencers and experts in the world of blockchain, distributed ledgers, and digital finance to create a series of six in-depth research papers examining the potential and perils of blockchain. These documents collectively examine the general contours and technology underlying blockchain, its growing impact in the financial services sector, and its implications for emerging markets. They also provide a regional analysis of blockchain developments in emerging markets, with particular attention paid to financial sectors, as well as a look at the implications and potential applications of blockchain beyond finance, especially with regard to global value chains.

English | 60 Pages - October - Report | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 10/3/17

Beyond Fintech: Leveraging Blockchain for More Sustainable and Inclusive Supply Chains

Global value chains cross multiple borders and connect advanced and emerging economies, and are vehicles that can deliver on many of the promises of globalization. Yet operating them is complex and costly. Global trade since the great recession has slowed, in part because of a lack of transparency and interoperability within these networks. Blockchain, a technology with unique abilities to record, track, monitor, and exchange assets without need of an intermediary, may be the solution to many of the logistical and cost issues that plague the growth and operation of global value chains, especially in the case of food, agribusiness, and pharmaceuticals.

English | 7 Pages - September - Note 45 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 8/21/17

Blockchain in Financial Services in Emerging Markets Part II

Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, is now disrupting the financial services industry as part of a larger wave of external innovations by digital financial technologies. Emerging markets—due to their higher banking risks, lower bank penetration, and greater presence of digital financing—are an ideal backdrop for the adoption of blockchain-based financial solutions, and benefits could include a technological leap forward and a boost to financial inclusion and growth. This note focuses on selected regions in emerging markets where distributed ledger technology is already affecting the provision of financial services, including Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

English | 5 Pages - August - Note 44 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 8/21/17

Blockchain in Financial Services in Emerging Markets Part I

Financial institutions around the world find themselves continually barraged by external innovations they are often unable to absorb and internalize. The emergence of innovative digital financial technologies has challenged traditional players in the sector by demonstrating new ways to deliver value across the entire financial value chain. Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, is just such a disruptive—and possibly game-changing—innovation. Emerging markets may provide an ideal backdrop for the adoption of blockchain-based financial solutions, which can provide the basis for a technological leap forward and a boost to financial inclusion and growth.

English | 8 Pages - August - Note 43 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 8/10/17

Digital Financial Services: Challenges and Opportunities for Emerging Market Banks

A digital transformation is taking place in the financial services industry, with a host of non-bank innovators offering both customer facing and back office financial technology products and services. This transformation includes emerging market economies, and in many places offers a viable digital alternative to traditional banks, which have left significant populations underbanked. This note explores the challenges and opportunities that financial technology innovations present for banks in these nations.

English | 9 Pages - August - Note 42 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 7/26/17

Blockchain in Development -- Part II: How It Can Impact Emerging Markets

Blockchain has enormous potential for emerging markets. These nations appear poised for a more rapid adoption of blockchain, though a framework is needed to assess how the technology can be deployed and which applications and use cases are likely to be seen first. While the potential of blockchain is great, the technology is still at an early stage of development and will need to overcome potential setbacks—technical, regulatory, and organizational—before it becomes mainstream. In such a context of uncertainty, companies in emerging markets can neither afford to wait until the outcome is evident nor expose their existing business models to overly risky wholescale blockchain initiatives. Instead, they will need to adopt an experimental approach that allows them to develop options and thereby learn in the process, inform their strategies, and improve their value propositions.

English | 7 Pages - July - Note 41 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 7/26/17

Blockchain in Development -- Part I: A New Mechanism of 'Trust'?

Blockchain is an exciting new technology that may prove to be a radical innovation with the power to disrupt existing economic and business models. It has the potential to deliver productivity gains to multiple industries, from the financial sector to energy markets, supply chains, intellectual property management, the public sector, and beyond. And blockchain may also prove particularly valuable in emerging market economies. Yet the technology is in early stages of development and serious challenges and risks, both technical and regulatory, will need to be addressed before it achieves widespread adoption. Questions remain about blockchain’s scalability, interoperability, security, transition costs, data privacy, and governance. And business leaders and policy makers will need to think long and hard about when and under what conditions a blockchain initiative may be warranted.

English | 6 Pages - July - Note 40 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 6/22/17

Technology-Enabled Supply Chain Finance

Small and medium enterprises in emerging markets often lack access to the credit and liquidity they require for their daily working capital needs. This is partly due to the fact that the credit risk of such businesses is typically difficult to assess and their working capital needs are unpredictable. In most countries these businesses operate primarily in the retail and wholesale trade segments, and banks have generally not done enough to finance their domestic or international trade operations. Supply chain finance structures offer an alternative solution to finance the trade flows of these enterprises, with benefits for all stakeholders, including large enterprises, their SME trade counterparts, and financial institutions.

English | 7 Pages - June - Note 39 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 5/24/17

Can Blockchain Technology Address De-Risking in Emerging Markets?

Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, has the potential to address many problems in emerging markets. In this note we consider whether blockchain can be used to mitigate de-risking by financial institutions, which affects receivers of remittances, businesses that need correspondent banking relationships, and charities working in conflict countries.

English | 5 Pages - May - Note 38 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 4/27/17

Creating Agricultural Markets: How the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange Connects Farmers and Buyers through Partnership and Technology

Commodity exchanges can provide emerging market economies with orderly, transparent, and efficient markets by acting as mechanisms that mitigate price risk, discover equilibrium prices, and connect buyers and sellers. Exchanges can also reduce transaction costs and information asymmetries by using technology to disseminate market information while creating better supply chains. The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange is striving to transform Ethiopia’s agriculture sector from a fragmented one marked by high transaction costs and low quality standards to a thriving and reliable part of the country’s economy. Ethiopia’s exchange continues to expand its activity across the farming regions of the country.

English | 4 Pages - April - Note 37 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 4/19/17

Queen Alia International Airport – The Role of IFC in Facilitating Private Investment in a Large Airport Project

In 2007 Jordan lacked the financial resources and experience to embark on a renovation and expansion of its international airport, a colossal public-private undertaking. Yet by 2013 it was able to successfully complete the complex endeavor in collaboration with a private sector concessionaire, and without a sovereign guarantee, setting an example for countries and public-private project practitioners confronting similar circumstances. IFC played multiple roles in facilitating private investment over a 10-year period.

English | 5 Pages - April - Note 35 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 4/13/17

Mobilizing Institutional Investments into Emerging Market Infrastructure

The infrastructure financing gap remains a critical global challenge for sustainable development. New thinking and innovative financial models are needed in order to mobilize more private capital to infrastructure investments. IFC’s new Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program for Infrastructure seeks to address numerous infrastructure financing challenges that inhibit the flow of resources to emerging markets. The program provides an innovative model for mobilizing financing for infrastructure projects that combines financing from insurance companies, project origination and credit enhancement from IFC, and support from public sector donors.

English | 4 Pages - April - Note 36 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 3/28/17

How Fintech is Reaching the Poor in Africa and Asia: A Start-Up Perspective

This note explores the way traditional banks and financial technology companies, or FinTechs, interact in Africa and Asia, and their ability to offer innovative digital financial services that grant unbanked individuals access to financial transactions. The FinTech sector is experiencing explosive growth in both continents, but while Asian banks have managed to efficiently integrate with FinTech solutions, African banks have been slower to adapt to this change. Still, the outlook for mobile banking remains positive, and its prevalence will boost the financial industry in both regions.

English | 6 Pages - March - Note 34 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 3/1/17

Creating Markets in Turkey's Power Sector

The World Bank Group’s engagement in Turkey’s power sector, which began in the 1990s and continues today, has helped to expand independent power production and privatize electricity distribution in the country. Significant investments made in both generation and distribution shifted the power sector toward private investment and management while meeting growing energy needs.

English | 3 Pages - March - Note 33 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 2/8/17

Private Provision of Education: Opportunities for Emerging Markets

The private sector plays an important role in emerging market countries with limited education capacity by providing quality schooling at all levels. By strengthening connections between education providers and private enterprises, it helps equip students with skills needed for successful employment, thereby creating additional potential for development. Private firms also play multiple roles in supporting public education by publishing learning materials and developing assessment tools and educational software, building and maintaining schools, and enabling financial support for students in need of it.

English | 6 Pages - February - Note 32 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 2/1/17

Improving Emerging Markets Healthcare Through Private Provision

The role of private enterprise in healthcare is to complement and support improvements to public healthcare, not to supplant it. Private providers are the primary source of care for the world’s poorest people and their record is often as good as or better than that of public providers. As low and middle-income economies grow and resources become more widely available, competition and consumer choice offer substantial potential to improve the reach, quality, and efficiency of both private and public provision.

English | 6 Pages - February - Note 31 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 1/25/17

Masala Bond Program -- Nurturing a Local Currency Bond Market

The financing needs of emerging markets are enormous. Sectors such as infrastructure, small business, and housing are vital to a nation’s sustainable development and require substantial financing support. Since these sectors primarily generate revenues in local currency, foreign currency financing may incur a mismatch that can expose emerging market borrowers to exchange rate risk in times of high volatility. Local currency bond issuance is a significant potential option that avoids such risks and can support private sector investment in productive sectors of emerging markets.

English | 3 Pages - January - Note 30 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 1/18/17

Toward a Framework for Assessing Private vs Public Investment in Infrastructure

Significant additional resources from the private sector will be needed for infrastructure in emerging market countries if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved. Scaling up the role that private firms and investors play in infrastructure provision will require a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of public versus private provision, including the issues and incentives that need to be considered in order to find the right balance between the two.

English | 6 Pages - January - Note 29 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 1/11/17

The Importance of Local Capital Markets for Financing Development

Rudimentary markets for capital—for raising money and investing—exist in even the world’s remotest places. Yet they are often speculative ventures prone to fraud. Prudent macroeconomic management, regulation, investor protection, and innovation are necessary to transition them into modern, efficient, well-functioning markets capable of serving the needs of investors, entrepreneurs, borrowers, and lenders alike.

English | 6 Pages - January - Note 28 | IFC, 2017

Publish Date: 12/22/16

How Banks Can Seize Opportunities in Climate and Green Investment

Climate change presents risks and opportunities for the financial sector in both emerging and advanced economies. Financial institutions cannot afford to be outside of the transition path to low-carbon economies. Energy subsidies, emission standards, and carbon prices will all have a direct impact on the financial positions of these institutions’ clients, making climate risk an important element of any credit decision. Yet there are also significant opportunities for financial institutions to provide innovative financing products for energy efficiency upgrades, renewable power generation, green buildings, green transport, and climate-smart agriculture and architecture. And there is a growing community of investors seeking new climate and environment friendly opportunities.

English | 6 Pages - December - Note 27 | IFC, 2016

Publish Date: 12/13/16

Private Provision of Infrastructure—Opportunities for Emerging Markets

Infrastructure delivers basic services critical to sustainable economic growth, improved living standards, and shared prosperity. The traditional role of financing and operating infrastructure projects has been shaken up in recent decades by the emergence of Public-Private Partnerships. Designed and implemented correctly, these partnerships can bring greater efficiency and sustainability to the provision of public services such as water and sanitation, electric power, transport, and telecommunications.

English | 6 Pages - December - Note 26 | IFC, 2016

Publish Date: 12/5/16

Mobilizing Private Climate Finance - Green Bonds and Beyond

The international market for green bonds—securities that raise capital for specific climate or environmental sustainability purposes—has experienced tremendous growth and could reach an annual market value of over $100 billion dollars this year. As part of this growth, new market tools, skills, and capital have been introduced into the green bond market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and more broadly address the problem of climate change.


Publish Date: 11/18/16

De-Risking by Banks in Emerging Markets – Effects and Responses for Trade

Bank de-risking is a reality. Increased capital requirements, coupled with rising Know-Your-Customer, Anti-Money-Laundering, and Combating-the-Financing-of-Terrorism compliance costs have resulted in the exit of several global banks from cross-border relationships with many emerging market clients and markets, particularly in the correspondent banking business. A subset of this business, trade finance, is also at risk, with potential consequences for segments of emerging market trade. Those involved in addressing the de-risking challenge must focus on compliance consistency and effective adaptation of technological innovations.

English | 6 Pages - November - Note 24 | © IFC, 2016

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