EIB signs SME loan agreement providing EUR 8 million to the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in Belize.

The EIB has signed a EUR 8 million loan with the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in Belize, which will help to enhance access to finance by projects implemented by small and medium sized companies and micro entrepreneurs in the country. The long term finance from the EIB provided at attractive rates will boost DFC’s ability to support private sector development in Belize.

In addition to the loan, which will be supported by a guarantee from the Government of Belize (GoB), the operation will benefit from technical assistance, which will help to strengthen DFC’s credit risk management and assets and liabilities management. DFC plays an important role in providing long term finance to the productive sectors, including agro-industry, manufacturing and tourism. It is currently undergoing a restructuring process aimed at bolstering DFC’s credit delivery and administration. The EIB will support the restructuring process primarily through its technical assistance programme.

EIB Vice-President Pim Van Ballekom said: “Supporting the development of the private sector in the Belizean economy through financing small and medium sized and micro enterprises is the key driving force behind this loan. The Development Finance Corporation is an organisation which will be crucial for strengthening the private sector in the country. Not only will this loan help micro entrepreneurs and small and medium sized entities but the technical assistance to DFC will be instrumental in achieving lasting benefits for the local economy. In addition to this EUR 8 million of finance for the private sector in Belize, we are committed to making a contribution to the private sector across the Caribbean”.

Government of Belize’s Financial Secretary, Mr. Joseph Waight said: “The Government of Belize is pleased that the EIB has re-established its relationship with the DFC through the approval of this line of credit and its technical assistance component. This facility will positively contribute to the fulfilment of DFC’s mandate to provide development finance and related services, which directly contribute to the sustainable growth of the Belizean economy. It is a welcomed partnership which signals the achievement of yet another milestone by the DFC – an important engine of growth for the Belizean economy. The Government fully supports the Corporation’s initiatives to build a strong loan portfolio, improve its operational sustainability, and explore innovations to foster resilience against climate change and economic volatility, in the DFC’s lending programs.”

DFC’s General Manager, Mrs. Natalie Ewing Goff said: “DFC’s Board of Directors and Executive Managers are pleased to re-establish our relationship with the EIB. This new line of credit and its technical assistance component, will greatly contribute to the rebuilding of the DFC – to serve as an important catalyst to the economic growth and development of Belize, and, as a model development finance institution in the region. We look forward to continue building on our relationship with the EIB.”

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and has supported development and economic activity in the Caribbean with loans and equity investment worth EUR 1.6 billion since its first operation in Trinidad and Tobago in 1978. The EIB has supported a variety of projects in Belize since its first operation in 1983. In 1996, the EIB provided DFC with a loan for ECU 2.5 million to finance small and medium sized entrepreneurs and enterprises. The loan supported 14 projects in the manufacturing, tourism, education and transport sectors, creating 190 new jobs.

Background information:
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

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