The FINANCIAL — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, provided a US$75 million loan to Banco Continental in Paraguay to increase access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that play a vital role in creating jobs and reducing poverty.
IFC’s financing consists of a US$50 million loan from IFC and a US$25 million loan through the IFC Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program, a syndications platform that offers institutional investors the ability to co-invest in IFC’s loan portfolio.
“IFC’s continued support to Banco Continental will bolster our efforts to expand lending to small and medium sized enterprises, especially those focused on the export sector,” said Hugo Ubeda, CEO of Banco Continental. “This new investment will consolidate our leadership in the financial sector in Paraguay and our capacity to lend to SMEs that in many cases are located in rural areas with low banking penetration,” Ubeda said.
Banco Continental and IFC have been working together in Paraguay since July 2008 when the bank joined a trade finance facility from IFC which currently has a US$20 million limit. In 2009 IFC’s Capitalization Equity Fund invested US$20 million in the Bank’s capital and continued to support Banco Continental as a shareholder until early 2015, according to IFC.
“Our long-term partnership with Banco Continental is helping the bank serve low-income sectors of the population and create a more inclusive financial marketplace,” said Salem Rohana, IFC Country Manager for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. “Financial institutions such as Banco Continental play a significant role in supporting key drivers of economic growth,” he said.
IFC’s strategy in Paraguay promotes business expansion into other emerging markets, supports micro, small, and medium enterprises, fosters global trade, and protects natural resources through environmentally sustainable business practices.