IFC’s vice-president and CEO Lars Thunell has concluded his visit to Brazil, a trip where he underlined the priorities of the IFC in this region. Throughout the tour, he spoke of the need to focus on mid-size companies, and mid-sized banks that can help expand access to finance to the SME sector.

Following this first official trip to Brazil on behalf of the IFC, he remarked: “Midsize Brazilian companies have the capacity to go global, and we are interested in supporting their growth.”

As an example of IFC’s interest, during the visit Thunell signed a US$40mn financing for Sabo, a Sao Paolo-based supplier of auto parts.

The overriding aim of the IFC is to focus on underserved people, and provide financing to advance the country’s development. Another recent example of the bank’s activity in this area is its equity investment in Banco Fibra, a bank expanding into Brazil’s less prosperous northeast region.

Sustainability was a key buzz-word heard during Thunell’s tour of Brazil, as he promoted IFC’s role in ensuring companies and banks met with environmental and social standards.

“Brazil is a clear leader on issues of sustainability.  I am struck by the number of banks that have adopted the Equator Principles, as well as the quality and commitment of many of the clients and entrepreneurs I have met.  And the country’s whole renewable energy sector is booming,” he remarks.

Thunell also participated in a roundtable discussion with Brazilian NGOs working in the Amazon. He spoke of IFC’s role in the region’s development, through which coalitions among various stakeholders, including the private sector could be promoted in order to strengthen supply chains in agribusiness and forestry.