The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a global financial institution, has committed about $1.5 billion in short- and long-term investments in Pakistan in fiscal year 2023, doubling its investments from the previous year against a backdrop of economic challenges in the country.
The IFC — a member of the World Bank — describes itself as the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Its projects in Pakistan aim to provide much-needed jobs, increase productivity in the private sector, enhance gender inclusion, and address the impacts of climate change, the corporation said in a press statement issued on Tuesday.
Last year, the IFC’s strategic areas of engagement included investments in agriculture and healthcare, the statement said, adding that the institution invested in the agribusiness sector by providing working capital to support local farmers and distributors, helping sustain jobs.
Moreover, to help meet growing healthcare needs, the IFC also supported Alliance Healthcare to enable the leading private healthcare provider in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to expand its Northwest Teaching Hospital and Northwest General Hospital, the statement said.
Alongside these investments, the IFC enhanced its banking sector support to bolster manufacturing and export-oriented industries and help smaller businesses strengthen their value chains, it added.
To support climate action, sustainability, and gender inclusion, the statement continued, the IFC expanded its advisory work to collaborate with the State Bank of Pakistan to redefine environmental and social risk management frameworks for the country’s banking sector.
It particularly highlighted the ‘Climate2Equal’ Initiative, which it said was launched to help companies increase the participation of female employees in climate-related actions and policy decisions.
In addition, agreements with Gul Ahmed Textiles, CCL Private Pharmaceuticals, and Unity Foods have supported efforts to enhance resource efficiency and gender diversity within their operations, according to the statement.
“Our investment and advisory programmes over the last fiscal year showcase the IFC’s commitment towards helping realise the significant potential of Pakistan’s private sector,” the statement quoted Zeeshan Sheikh, IFC’s country manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan, as saying.
“Moving forward, we want to increase our focus on facilitating access to finance, particularly for MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and sustainable and digital infrastructure, as well as support to export-oriented industries that help create jobs and are critical for the country’s economic growth,” he said.
Currently, through its Public Private Partnership (PPP) Advisory unit, the IFC is supporting the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority as the lead transaction advisor in structuring a private concession to upgrade airports in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi, according to the press statement.
“The country’s first-ever airport PPPs are expected to transform the sector, maximise revenue for the government, and provide improved services to the public,” it read.
The statement added: “The IFC continues to evaluate new advisory and investment opportunities, including PPPs, in areas such as water, waste management, and sustainable infrastructure, with an aim to identify and structure bankable projects to crowd in greater private capital. Enhancing access to finance, promoting development of digital infrastructure and venture capital/startups, and providing financing to export-oriented industries will also remain a key part of IFC’s strategy.
“Since 1956, IFC has invested approximately $11 billion in Pakistan. Through this work, IFC has supported diverse sectors such as renewable energy, financial inclusion, infrastructure development, agribusiness, manufacturing, housing, healthcare, and trade, among others.”