The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, will provide a US$12mn loan to support the SME lending operations of National Bank of Iraq, also known as Al-Ahli Bank of Iraq.
The financing represents IFC’s first investment under the Iraq Small Business Finance Facility, which seeks to assist micro, small, and medium enterprises in Iraq through local financial institutions.

Funded by IFC and donor agencies representing the UK, US, Japan, and Spain, the US$105mn Iraq Small Business Finance Facility provides technical assistance funding to develop Iraqi banks “capacity for lending to smaller businesses. It also extends term loans to certain Iraqi partner banks for on-lending to small local enterprises.

Jyrki Koskelo, Director of IFC’s Global Financial Markets Department, says, “IFC expects to do more transactions through the Iraq Small Business Finance Facility to support Iraqi bank lending to smaller businesses. We intend to work with a number of local banks to develop their capacity and to strengthen their operations.”

Sami Haddad, IFC’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, notes, “The project will achieve a high developmental impact. It will help revive economic activity in small enterprises at the grass-roots level and create new jobs and opportunities in Iraq’s private sector.”

Ghassan Jameel, general manager of National Bank of Iraq, welcomed IFC’s involvement in the bank and adds, “The new partnership with IFC is crucial for our business as it will enable us to serve our SME clients in a much better way. I hope that more foreign investors will follow IFC’s example and engage in the Iraqi banking sector.”