Pitter Patter

May 29, 2006 (LBO) – The International Finance Corp, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group Monday launched a 10 million dollar technical assistant fund to uplift Sri Lanka’s small and medium sector. Dubbed the SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility or SEDF, the multi-donor assistance programme will cover Sri Lanka and Maldives over a five-year period, IFCs Director South Asia, Iyad Malas told reporters.

“We will focus on three or four areas, mostly with the banking sector to help them speed up access to finance SMEs,” Malas said.

Around 90 percent of the funding will be used in Sri Lanka, initially in tourism related fields, with the troubled northeast left out of the initial phase. “We will expand the Northeast as part of the donor-supported reconstruction process as peace progresses,” Gilles Galludec, IFCs resident representative for Sri Lanka said.

“In the Maldives, the programme will target projects in the capital, Male, in view of the small size and spread of the Maldivian economy and the high costs of programme delivery,” Gaulldec said.

IFC is partnering with Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Hatton National Bank, NDB Bank and Sampath Bank to execute the programme.