IFC and Blue Financial Services Help Small Businesses and Local Communities in B...
Johannesburg, South Africa, August, 31 2007 -
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced plans to work with Blue Financial Services, a pan-African consumer finance provider, to implement a pilot HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention program in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The program will target local communities and small companies, helping them protect businesses and preserve jobs by managing the epidemic’s business risks.
Under the proposed program, Blue Financial Services will use its extensive branch network in the three countries to deliver prevention services and information to staff, clients, and local communities. IFC will work with the company to design products that integrate traditional financial services with HIV/AIDS prevention.
“As a fast-growing consumer finance provider operating in markets where HIV/AIDS prevalence levels are high, it is critical that we address the potential risks of this pandemic,” said Blue Financial Services CEO Dave van Niekerk. “We see excellent prospects for using our network to reach out to clients, and to provide them not only with financing, but also the tools they need to protect their financial and human resources.”
Small-scale, individual, and business borrowers are particularly vulnerable to the risks of HIV/AIDS. “IFC recognizes that the epidemic is as much a business issue as it is a development and humanitarian concern,” said IFC Director for Sub-Saharan Africa Thierry Tanoh. “By leveraging the reach of institutions like Blue Financial Services that target underserved markets, we can help provide small businesses with solutions that combine access to finance with relevant HIV/AIDS prevention support.”
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that people have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY06, IFC committed $8.3 billion, including loan participations, to 284 investments in 66 developing countries.
IFC Against AIDS is a specialized program that works with client companies to develop and implement sustainable programs for mitigating the threat to business performance posed by HIV/AIDS. The program’s mission is to protect people and profitability by being a risk management partner, HIV/AIDS expert, and catalyst for action where the epidemic is threatening sustainable development.
About Blue Financial Services
Blue Financial Services, the AltX-listed pan-African financier, is one of the three largest listed microlenders in South Africa. The company provides payroll-based, unsecured lending to individuals and households. Since its inception in 2001, it has provided credit to over 175,000 people and funded over $140 million in loans. With additional operations in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, it is the only listed microlender with a significant presence outside South Africa. Blue has 150 branches and over 800 employees and plans to open more subsidiaries in Africa before the end of the year.
Blue’s business model is to partner with larger employers and governments and offer their employees access to credit solutions, including salary advances, home improvement loans, mortgage loans, and insurance. Blue is registered with the Financial Services Board of South Africa and the central banks in each of its operating countries.