SME Ventures’ innovative program provides both risk capital and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and fund managers in the world’s most challenging markets.
The need for risk capital is enormous in fragile and frontier countries, where acute development needs persist, often compounded by the devastating effects of conflict.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in these countries have the potential to drive much-needed job creation and economic growth—but they have little access to the capital they need to thrive. They are typically too large to be served by microfinance institutions, yet too small and too recently established to be served by commercial banks. They also face other challenges, such as a lack of management skills or industry knowledge.
By providing these entrepreneurs with risk capital—such as equity, loans, and quasi-loans—combined with technical assistance, SME Ventures is already seeing results. At the local level, investee firms have expanded their businesses, created significant numbers of jobs, and provided essential goods and services to their local populations.
SME Ventures also provides support to fund managers as they establish themselves in these difficult markets.
On a wider economic level, SME Ventures has paved the way for other private equity firms to enter these markets, by working with the World Bank and governments to create a regulatory environment conducive to private equity investments—and by providing a powerful signaling effect to indicate the presence of a viable private equity market in these countries.
Having established four funds covering six countries, IFC is now embarking on an expansion of the program, with a view to launching a number of new funds in fragile and frontier markets. For more information on the opportunities for new fund managers to become involved in the SME Ventures program, please visit this page.