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The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has provided a US$10mn credit line to the Brazilian bank, Banco Triangulo – Tribanco. IFC’s long-term financing with a seven-year tenor will support Tribanco’s lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and contribute to Tribanco’s expansion strategy.

Tribanco, created in 1990, is part of Brazilian Grupo Martins. Grupo Martins, founded in 1953, is the largest wholesale distributor in Latin America, serving clients in the food, electro-electronic, building material and pharmaceutical segments in Brazil, with 210,000 clients, most of whom are small retailers. IFC’s funding will be instrumental in further enhancing Grupo Martins “support to its supply chain.

Tribanco is focused on financing the group’s clients, leveraging on Martins “geographical reach and established, long-lasting relationships. Tribanco has 22,000 clients and US$750mn in assets (US$270mn equivalent), doubling its size in the last three years. A large part of this clientele was previously underserved, because of the lack of targeted financial services to small enterprises and traditional banks “difficulty in reaching remote municipalities. Tribanco’s financing is a key component of Grupo Martins “strategy to enhance competitiveness of its SME clients.

Peter Woicke, executive vice-president of IFC, notes: “IFC funding will support Tribanco’s role as a pioneer bank that is widening access to credit in remote and under-privileged sectors of the economy. The credit line will allow Tribanco to continue expanding its lending programmes and support the development of SMES, a fundamental sector for equitable economic growth in Brazil.

“IFC’s credit line will be instrumental in allowing Tribanco to broaden its product offering and extend longer facilities for its clients. IFC wants to further support the remarkable performance of Tribanco, acknowledged locally as a success story in Brazilian microfinance.”

A microfinance seminar organised by the Central Bank of Brazil and the Federation of Brazilian Banks in October of 2003 recognised Tribanco as a pioneer and a success story in Brazilian microfinance.

Juscelino Martins, president of Tribanco, comments: “We are extremely pleased with IFC’s support, as it provides longer tenor than normally available in Brazil, and further diversifies the bank’s funding sources.”

To enhance its clients “competitiveness, and to disseminate best practices for small retail operators, Grupo Martins created Universidade Martins do Varejo. In addition to the financing package, IFC is working closely with Tribanco to develop a capacity building program for its clients. By training small retailers to act as a financial conduit to their individual customers, this technical assistance will have a multiplier effect that will bring access to finance to a population that is usually excluded from such services.