A US$7.5M loan intended to empower Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) as well as, local famers has been signed between the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the World Bank and the Ecobank-Liberia.
The loan was signed on Tuesday between the IFC’s executive vice president Jin-Yong Cai and authority of the Ecobank-Liberia.
As part of the agreement, Ecobank is expected to distribute the US$7.5million among the local businesses that have been greatly affected by the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) around the country.
Describing the loan as “post Ebola strategy,” Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, said ““It will help in the economic recovery of the country and to create more jobs for Liberians following the end of the epidemic.”
Kim made the disclosure last Tuesday at the end of his one-day emergency visit to the country.
During the visit, the WBG Head also held a closed-door discussion with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry office.
According to President Kim, his institution (the WBG) will continue to work through IFC to provide liquidity to local banks to support Small and Medium-Size Enterprises and local entrepreneurs, including farmers.
“The outbreak has stalled some of our existing infrastructural projects. We are working to bring the private sector back,” the World Bank group boss added.
Mr. Kim stressed that “though the fight against the virus continues to improve in the country, we don’t need to wait to get to zero before we start to work on the economic recovery.”
“Another area of importance,” The WBG boss said, “is in the area of agriculture sector. It is one of the key pillars of Liberia’s economy and we are concerned that agricultural production has dropped as a result of the epidemic.”
He further pledged, “We will help Liberian farmers to recover from this crisis. We must make sure that the Ebola outbreak is not followed by a food security crisis.”
He also disclosed that WBG and some of its partners and collaborators were organizing a round table on how to help the recovery exercise of the private sector and other issues with private companies working in the three most affected countries.
Ecobank is a pan-African banking conglomerate, with banking operations in 36 African countries.
It is one of the leading independent regional banking groups in West and Central Africa, serving wholesale and retail customers. The bank also maintains subsidiaries in Eastern Africa.