Access to Essential Financial Services

A first-time applicant at a one-stop shop for obtaining construction permits in Côte d’Ivoire. © Jamie Lee / World Bank

Basic financial products such as insurance and housing loans are critical to fighting poverty and boosting prosperity. They help people and businesses build assets, increase income and reduce their vulnerability to economic stress. IFC works with financial intermediaries to provide:

Housing Finance

Housing is a basic human need. Yet lack of adequate housing is one of the biggest challenges facing emerging markets today. IFC is a leading international investor in housing finance, reaching clients in 46 countries. We pioneered the asset class, and our housing-finance investments span more than 30 years.  Our goal is to help clients seize opportunities in housing finance, which has an estimated global investment potential of as much as $700 billion.


When people lack insurance, accidents, disasters, and death can bring financial devastation. And in the developing world, most people lack insurance. An abundance of unmitigated risks can move individuals back into the poverty cycle; can endanger the survival of a business and affect jobs; and finally will seriously impair economic endeavors.

A well-functioning insurance market provides tools to offset risks, to protect investment and assets, provide peace-of-mind, and through the accumulation of capital, can significantly stimulate financial markets in the country.

We are part of the Global Index Insurance Facility (GIIF), a multi-donor program supporting the development and growth of local markets for weather and disaster index-based insurance in developing countries, primarily Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia Pacific.