Sunday 4, September 2016

Beirut – MENA Herald: IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is providing a loan of $4 million to a leading microfinance institution in Lebanon, to help boost its lending capacity to microbusinesses and support the creation of much needed jobs, amid the current refugee crisis.

The investment from IFC will help Vitas s.a.l grow its loan portfolio and expand outreach to low income and economically active poor, including women and youth. The majority of Vitas s.a.l clients are located in rural areas including frontier regions and Syrian refugee areas. Its current portfolio comprises 39 percent women and 33 percent youth.

“Although micro and small enterprises constitute the majority of businesses in Lebanon’s economy and provide the bulk of the jobs available in the market, they still suffer from lack of access to credit,” said Ziad Halaby, General Manager of Vitas s.a.l. “This financing will help remedy that situation by providing vital financing to those who need it most.”

Supporting the economic development of fragile and conflict-affected states is a key pillar of the World Bank Group’s strategic priorities, as these countries often exhibit weak and unstable political and economic environments. IFC’s strategy in Lebanon focuses on easing the impact of the Syrian crisis, extending financial services to the underserved, facilitating access to finance and promoting gender diversity.

“The investment will help improve access to finance in underserved segments across the country and disadvantaged groups, including those impacted by the Syrian crisis,” said Thomas Jacobs, IFC Principal Country Officer in Lebanon. “Supporting financial institutions like Vitas s.a.l will help enhance access to finance, narrow the existing financing gap standing and encourage job creation.”

Vitas s.a.l, the first microfinance institution to receive a financial institution license from the Central Bank of Lebanon, is regulated by the Banque du Liban. It is one of the country’s leading microfinance providers with focus on woman, youth, and rural based businesses.

The investment marks IFC’s second financial engagement with Vitas s.a.l. In the past, IFC has provided a $2 million loan to Vitas s.a.l, and also helped the institution strengthen its various functions through its advisory programs.