IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with the government of Flanders (Belgium) to establish a €2mn (US$2.6mn) trust fund to help promote private sector growth in emerging markets.

Fientje Moerman, vice-minister-president of the Flemish government and minister for economy, enterprise, science, innovation, and foreign trade, says: “The Flemish Trust Fund’s special emphasis is on Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa, countries that are important for Flanders’ development policy. The fund is designed as an incentive for Flemish consultants to apply for assignments with IFC, and for Flemish suppliers and contractors to participate more in such projects. The Flemish government is very happy to become a part of IFC’s Trust Fund programme.”

Max Aitken, chief of IFC’s partnerships and donor relations operations, adds: “We are delighted to have Flanders join the more than 30 partners with which IFC cooperates to maximise our development impact. Partners such as Flanders are central to our being able to offer targeted advisory services around the world that have an important development impact on the ground.”

Through the trust fund, Flanders may support projects in all developing regions that IFC serves. Priority sectors include: the environment; industry and manufacturing; infrastructure, especially ports and airports; private sector development, especially support for small businesses; and water.

Opportunities created by the trust fund will be posted on the Flanders Investment and Trade Web site: www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com. At least 50% of the fund will support consultants or firms from Flanders, and up to half of the remaining amount can be used to finance consultants from other regions or countries.