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IFC is expanding its business in Africa.

It is the region with the greatest unmet need for private sector development investment, which is why we are using the IDA Private Sector Window and all other elements of our 3.0 strategy to increase our impact at the country level. IFC is stepping up its resources and efforts in Africa, but much work remains, particularly given the new challenges presented by COVID-19.

IFC is expanding its presence on the ground in Sub-Saharan Africa with nine new offices. Before the pandemic, IFC opened offices in Angola, Benin, and Togo and established a joint presence with the World Bank in Somalia. IFC has finalized the agreements and hired staff for offices in Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger; these offices are operating virtually until we are able to physically open them, once the constraints posed by COVID-19 are lifted. Similar plans are being finalized for Mali and Uganda.

Upstream work is pivotal to our success. Innovative approaches are needed to create jobs and improve livelihoods. In Ethiopia, four years of IFC advisory services have helped more than 30,000 small-scale barley farmers significantly improve their quality and productivity through the introduction of new seeds, fertilizers, and growing techniques. These farmers are now part of a true supply chain, linked with major buyers. They sell most of their barley for milling into flour for bread, as well as to leading breweries, such as Habesha, for malt. Habesha is expanding with €50 million in IFC financing and mobilization. It is a win-win model we use across Africa: creating markets, increasing incomes, and improving lives.

Entrepreneurial Energy

A new generation of innovative, technology-driven entrepreneurs is emerging across Africa. IFC is assisting in bringing these startups to scale, providing early stage support.

At this year’s CES trade show in Las Vegas — the world’s leading stage for transformative technologies, drawing more than 175,000 industry professionals — we launched the World Bank Group #GlobalTechChallenge. IFC led this initiative to match early-stage health tech innovators with health care providers in East Africa, where needs are among the highest in the world. TechEmerge Health-East Africa identified more than 50 entrepreneurs with the potential to meet pressing needs in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Selected innovators will receive funding and guidance from IFC’s TechEmerge team to pilot their products in the East African market, with the ultimate goal of wider commercial deployment.

African entrepreneurs — a key target for IFC support.
African entrepreneurs—a key target for IFC support. Photo: Jono Erasmus/Shutterstock

We are also focusing on accelerators — organizations that provide capacity building to help startups scale their companies and attract investment. Accelerators are often a first step for entrepreneurs in Africa, which we support through seed funds, direct investments, and venture capital funds.

Recent IFC research revealed that accelerators in the past actually accentuated the gender finance gap for women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, typically helping male-led startups raise far more equity than female-led ones. In parallel, to address the gender finance gap for women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, we launched the ScaleX program to incentivize accelerators to help women entrepreneurs overcome the gender bias and raise more equity investment. During its initial pilot phase, ScaleX seeks to catalyze $40 million of new equity investment in women-led startups.

IFC in Africa

60 Years of Operating History

  • ~$10 BILLIONTOTAL COMMITTED INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO
  • $4 BILLIONOF SYNDICATIONS MOBILIZED
  • 366 INVESTMENT CLIENTSACROSS 43 COUNTRIES
  • 367 ACTIVE ADVISORY SERVICES PROJECTSIN APPROXIMATELY 40 COUNTRIES
  • 78 ENGAGEMENTS WITH GOVERNMENTS ON REGULATORY REFORMS TO SUPPORT THE PRIVATE SECTOR
  • 12 COVID-19 RESPONSE PROJECTSUNDERWAY WITH CLIENTS AND MORE IN DEVELOPMENT