IFC today signed trade finance agreements with three leading banks in Sierra Leone that will enable them to provide import letters of credit to the country’s business community. The three banks, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Rokel Commercial Bank, and Guaranty Trust Bank Limited, will each benefit from guarantees worth $1 million under IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program.
IFC places a high priority on helping Sierra Leone’s private sector contribute strongly to economic growth and recovery. The trade finance facility will enable the three banks to further support Sierra Leonean importers and build stronger ties with international banks that participate in the program.
The Global Trade Finance Program promotes trade with emerging markets worldwide by supporting flows of goods and services to and from developing countries. Through the program, IFC provides credit guarantees that allow recipient banks in emerging markets to expand their trade finance coverage and transactions within an extensive network of countries and banks.
“IFC’s facility supports our customers in the crucial area of import financing through letters of credit,” said Patrick Conteh, Executive Director, Risk Management, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, “Our clients will no longer be required to provide full cash cover up front, and the bank will gain more business as a result.”
“The trade finance line will be coupled with advisory services to the banks to help them build their trade finance operations. It will also assist them in product development and marketing,” said IFC Country Manager Imoni Akpofure.
“The Global Trade Finance Program is especially important for emerging markets as a tool to promote South-South trade. Two-thirds of the trade transactions supported so far under the program are in Africa,” said IFC’s Director for Global Financial Markets, Jyrki Koskelo.
With a ceiling of $1 billion, the program is IFC’s largest financing program. To date, 48 banks in over 25 emerging markets and over 90 international banks in 62 countries have joined the program.
About IFC. IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes open and competitive markets in developing countries. IFC supports sustainable private sector companies and other partners in generating productive jobs and delivering basic services, so that people have opportunities to escape poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06, IFC Financial Products has committed more than $56 billion in funding for private sector investments and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services and donor partners have provided more than $1 billion in program support to build small enterprises, to accelerate private participation in infrastructure, to improve the business enabling environment, to increase access to finance, and to strengthen environmental and social sustainability. For more information, please visit www.ifc.org/africa .
About Sierra Leone Commercial Bank
Sierra Leone Commercial Bank was the first indigenous bank to be set up in the country, in 1973. Owned 100 percent by the government of Sierra Leone, it is the largest bank in the country – both in terms of geographic reach and balance sheet.
About Rokel Commercial Bank
Rokel Commercial Bank (Sierra Leone) Limited started banking operations in 1999 and has the second-largest asset base in the country. The bank evolved from Barclays Bank plc, which opened a 100 percent banking subsidiary in the capital city of Freetown in 1917. In 1971, Barclays sold a 40 percent stake to various local investors. It sold an additional 51 percent stake to the government in 1999 and gave the remaining nine percent stake to Rokel’s employees.
About Guaranty Trust Bank Sierra Leone Limited
Guaranty Trust Bank Sierra Leone opened its doors in 2002 after Guaranty Trust Bank Nigeria acquired a 90 percent stake in First Merchant Bank of Sierra Leone, an indigenous bank that had been operating for two years but performing poorly.