US$20 million to aid Jamaican businesses

KINGSTON: The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is investing US$20 million in Jamaica’s First Global Bank Ltd. to help the bank expand services to small and medium enterprises and serve the financing needs of the local business sector amid the global financial crisis.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will provide a US$10 million loan to First Global Bank and invest the other half of the funds in preferred shares, marking the corporation’s first financing to the bank. The investment is expected to enhance the bank’s ability to lend to Jamaican businesses, improving overall access to capital and longer-term financing.

“We value IFC’s partnership in addressing the critical need for working capital and project financing for Jamaican businesses,” said Wayne Wray, President of First Global Bank. “The additional capital will facilitate our expansion plans in Jamaica and throughout the region, as we seek to be even more responsive to customer needs.”

IFC representative for the English Caribbean, Kirk Ifill, said the corporation is “committed to supporting sound financial players in the Caribbean like the First Global Bank to help them better serve their clients and mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis”.

IFC is expanding operations in the Caribbean, with a focus on helping develop the financial sector to generate sustainable growth and improve the region’s competitiveness.

As of January 2009, IFC’s committed portfolio in the Caribbean region totaled US$379 million. Since 2000, IFC has provided and mobilized more than US$1.3 billion in financing for the Caribbean in such sectors as financial markets, infrastructure, information and communications technologies, manufacturing and services, health and education.

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