EBRD and IFC discuss economic growth at European Development Days

By Volker Ahlemeyer

EBRD and IFC discuss economic growth at European Development Days

Private partnerships for development

Strengthening economic resilience, responding to the refugee crisis and generally setting the conditions for sustainable growth – these are only some of the goals of the international community that feature on the top of the development agenda.

These topics (and many more) were discussed at the European Development Days in Brussels on 15-16 June. Organised by the European Commission, the event attracts several thousand participants from around the world each year. It is one of the major conferences to discuss how to tackle global challenges, this year with a focus on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The EBRD organised a discussion panel with the IFC on Spurring economic growth through private sector engagement . The debate focused on the challenges and opportunities for the various actors, including the private sector, international financial institutions and the EU.

How can we support the private sector effectively and help businesses develop? How can we release new resources to boost finance for development and turn billions into trillions to spur sustainable growth? How do we build successful partnerships with private sector actors to achieve this goal?

In an interactive debate, moderated by Jonathan Charles, the EBRD’s Managing Director for Communications, several businesses, international financial institutions and the EU discussed these questions and many more from the audience.

“We cannot reach the Sustainable Development Goals without the private sector,” said Antti Karhunen , Head of Unit at the European Commission’s DG for International Cooperation and Development. It is thus vital to set the right conditions to help the private sector develop, to support more diverse economies and to integrate businesses into global supply chains.

The EBRD and International Finance Corporation (IFC) presented how their activities help to involve the private sector to spur economic growth.  Stephanie J. Miller, IFC’s Director for Western Europe, spoke about how international financial institutions attract co-investors to take advantage of untapped market opportunities, while the EBRD’s Alex Paine stressed the importance of providing small and medium-sized companies not only with access to finance but also with the know-how to grow their business.

It is these activities of the EBRD, IFC and other IFIs that make a difference and help change thousands of people’s lives for the better across the globe. Two business partners – one co-financier and one beneficiary – were present to recount their experience and showcase their examples.

The EBRD worked with IT company ScienceSoft in Belarus. With the help of EU funding, the Bank provided the business with the know-how it needed to successfully diversify its client base and expand business through a merger, which significantly increased ScienceSoft’s turnover.

“The EBRD’s support came at a critical time and the expertise it offered helped ScienceSoft grow,” explained Uladzimir Radkevitch, the company’s VP of Sales, Marketing and Business Development.

With funding from the European Union, the EBRD worked with ScienceSoft a software producer from Belarus, to diversify its client base and expand business through a merger.

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Jan Dijkstra, ING Managing Director, Global Head Emerging Markets FI, spoke about the benefits of co-financing alongside international financial institutions, such as the EBRD and IFC, when investing in emerging markets.

Partnering with the private sector is now more important than ever to boost development, the panel participants agreed. With sparse public resources available, there is a need to align the interests of public and private sector actors and to create strong, long-lasting partnerships that support sustainable growth.