Multilateral Bank of the Year 2018: IDB Invest
November 7, 2018
The lender is focusing on social and local issues
When he began the year, James Scriven had three goals in mind. The chief executive officer of IDB Invest, the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) wanted to expand investment in infrastructure beyond just roads and ports to include social projects as well.
He also wanted to diversify traditional dollar-denominated deals to include local currencies.
Equally important, Scriven wanted to press ahead with an initiative to expand IDB Invest’s local presence in Latin American and Caribbean nations.
So far in 2018, IDB Invest has gone a long way in meeting those objectives. The bank has expanded its definition of infrastructure to include social programs, such as those focusing on education and healthcare. It has created more opportunity for local currency deals. And it continues expanding its field presence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It has 85 staffers in 26 countries, and that number is expected to grow again next year. For Scriven, local offices allow IDB Invest to better understand challenges and work on solutions.
Meanwhile, Scriven points out that one of the organization’s important deals this year was the $500 million, three-year floating rate note issued by IDB Invest that was priced on the Eurobond market. The new issue pays a quarterly coupon of three-month Libor, plus 0.09%. Scriven says the deal, which was oversubscribed, demonstrates the commitment of the private sector to IDB.
In addition to other priorities, gender equality has been a key objective this year. Half of small and medium-size businesses in Latin America are operated by women, Scriven notes.
But bank lending in the region heavily favors male-owned businesses. Scriven says IDB Invest has been meeting with banks to point out the potential of women-owned businesses, given their local network of contacts and customers. The pitch “is a simple one,” he says. “It’s a business opportunity.”
The development bank is also taking a direct approach with its gender equality initiative. In October, IDB Invest and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. announced the creation of the first fund to provide financing to female entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, the fund will provide financing to companies that provide women with critical services and products or lower barriers to employment for women. Fund Mujer is expected to raise up to $200 million. LF