Family Business Governance

Family businesses constitute the world’s oldest form of business. They range from small and medium-sized companies to large conglomerates operating in multiple industries and countries.

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Most family businesses have a short life span, rarely going beyond their founder’s stage. This is often the result of a lack of sustainable governance structures, unmanaged growth risks and failure to address succession. Family businesses can increase their odds of survival by approaching their growth strategically, analyzing risks and introducing efficient governance structures to transition the business to the subsequent generations.

A significant portion of IFC’s investment portfolio consists of family-controlled businesses. IFC is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges family businesses face in emerging markets and in growing sustainably. IFC has developed and adapted its Corporate Governance Methodology to specifically address the governance challenges of family or founder-owned businesses to identify corporate and family business governance challenges and offer solutions to address these challenges. The Corporate Governance Methodology also offers tailored guidance for family businesses to support sustainable growth and integrate environmental and social considerations in their governance approach.

IFC works closely with its investment clients by:

  • Conducting corporate governance and family business governance diagnostics based on IFC Corporate Governance Methodology.
  • Designing tailored corporate governance action plans, including family business governance improvements.
  • Providing advice, consultations, and targeted training on different aspects of family business governance.
  • Assisting in developing family business governance-related policies and procedures.


95 percent of family businesses do not survive the third generation of ownership
Family money fuels 85 percent of startups worldwide
35 percent of Fortune 500 companies are family-controlled.
In some countries, around 50 percent of the IFC investment portfolio consists of family-controlled businesses.