IFC Helps Lebanese Businesses Cut Costs, Protect the Environment
IFC is ramping up its efforts to protect the environment and combat climate change by helping a leading Lebanese bank dramatically increase lending to eco-minded businesses and homeowners.
IFC helped Banque Libano-Française (BLF) develop capabilities and expertise to expand its loan offerings for corporations, schools, and home owners that want to invest in renewables and energy-efficient projects.
BLF has now provided 10 such loans to Lebanese businesses, totaling almost $30 million. In the retail sector, the bank has financed more than 2,000 solar water heaters in private homes, among a host of other initiatives.
One company that benefitted from the program was Arab Printing Press, a Beirut print house with 130 workers.
“The (BLF initiative) gave us great insights into our operational activities, showing us how to reduce our energy bill by implementing energy saving measures that are good for us and good for the environment,” said CEO Elie Raphael.
BLF’s activities in energy efficiency and renewables are expected to lead to a sizeable reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and preserve several thousand trees, all while providing Lebanese businesses and homeowners with a sustainable advantage.
“BLF has a clear environmental sustainability strategy based on engaging with key stakeholders, raising awareness of green issues, developing the green lending business, and promoting a sustainable energy finance model for the bank and its clients, reflecting our commitment to the environment and the economy,” said Maurice Iskandar, Head of the International Division at BLF. “The program allowed us to boost the implementation of BLF’s sustainability strategy and to better serve our clients.”
Climate change is a particular concern in the arid and increasingly water-scarce Middle East, where heavily-subsidized fossil fuels have made energy saving investments unattractive. However, many businesses are realizing that subsidized electricity is unsustainable, particularly in Lebanon where demand has outstripped supply and businesses are often forced to turn to generators.
BLF was the first commercial bank in the MENA region to participate in IFC’s sustainable energy finance program. The IFC team provided comprehensive advice including technical expertise, detailed market assessment, exclusive tools adapted to the local context, and training to allow BLF to develop ways to reach out to entrepreneurs who want to switch to modern technologies and improve their operations.
The program also raised awareness about energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities among corporate and small business clients. It was made possible with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.