Small traders took highest share of IFC's Sh110bn funding to Kenya

World Bank's financing arm pumped a record ShSh1.7 trillion in 40 countries in Africa in a period to June 30.

In Summary
  • The corporation increased its financing for climate projects.
  • It invested and mobilized $930 million (Sh138 billion) since March 2020 in Kenya’s financial sector to support SMEs.
IFC Vice President for Africa Sérgio Pimenta meets with small business owner Francisca Endoli. Endoli uses M-KOPA, an IFC investee, to help grow her business.
IFC Vice President for Africa Sérgio Pimenta meets with small business owner Francisca Endoli. Endoli uses M-KOPA, an IFC investee, to help grow her business.
Image: IFC

Small traders received the lion's share of $754.8 million (Sh110 billion) disbursed to Kenya by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in a year to June 30. 

This was through onward lending arrangments between the World Bank's investment arm to ease credit to the sector perceived risky by commercial lenders. 

IFC's vice president for Africa Sergio Pimenta who has been in the country since last week told this writer that the corporation will continue to focus on sectors funded in the last financial year with more emphasis on climate financing.

"IFC provided record financing in Africa in fiscal year 2023, helping to accelerate the continent's energy transition, develop greener manufacturing and increase intra-Africa trade,'' Pimenta said. 

He added that the lender is keen to continue strengthening smaller businesses and boost local food production, including in more challenging fragile and conflict-affected regions.

IFC has invested and mobilized $930 million (Sh138 billion) since March 2020 in Kenya’s financial sector to support SMEs.

Overall,  the corporation pumped $11.5 billion (Sh1.7 trillion) in investments between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, across 40 countries, the largest-ever annual commitment for the continent.

The support includes $1.12 billion in trade financing, $876 million for the continent's green energy transition, and $1.98 billion to help smaller businesses grow and create jobs.

IFC also provided $1.76 billion to boost digital connectivity, with investments in telecom towers, broadband, and mobile internet growth.

Of the $11.5 billion, it provided $3.5 billion in short-term financing and mobilised $3.1 billion, with 40 percent of IFC's own account financing dedicated to addressing climate change and 48 per cent going to low-income and fragile and conflict-affected states. 

"At difficult times like these, when the shockwaves of multiple crises are shaking economies worldwide, we are stepping up our work to support a resilient, inclusive, and greener private sector that is helping provide infrastructure and digital solutions while also tackling food security and climate change," Pimenta said.

He added that catalyzing increased private sector innovation and financing for addressing climate change, bridging gender gaps, and empowering the next generation of startup leaders has been at the forefront of the lender and will continue to drive its engagements in the region.

As the continent accelerates its climate response and shifts to a net-zero world, IFC increased its financing for climate projects.

During the financial year, IFC's Africa Fragility Initiative (AFI) supported 18 advisory projects focused on developing private sector capacity in the most nascent and fragile markets in Africa.

IFC and its partners also announced four new projects through the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa to support micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and help address food insecurity, and increase trade and agricultural productivity and efficiency. 

In addition to its investments in Africa, IFC provided Advisory and Upstream Services with a portfolio of more than $445 million across 275 projects aimed at improving the investment climate and helping Africa create markets and attract investment.

In the last financial year, 22 per cent of the Advisory and Upstream spending was on projects focused on climate change, and 43 per cent of all new projects approved supported improvements in gender equality.

Pimenta exclusively told the Star that the corporation is conducting an analysis of its projects in Kenya and the continent to establish the number of SMEs that have benefited from its funding model with local banks.

The World Bank's funding arm is also planning a continental climate finance conference in Nairobi next month to help in sourcing funds to implement some aspects of the just concluded inaugural Africa Climate Summit. 

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