The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries. The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. It was established in 1956 as the private sector arm of the World Bank Group to advance economic development by investing in strictly for-profit and commercial projects that purport to reduce poverty and promote development. The IFC's stated aim is to create opportunities for people to escape poverty and achieve better living standards by mobilizing financial resources for private enterprise, promoting accessible and competitive markets, supporting businesses and other private sector entities, and creating jobs and delivering necessary services to those who are poverty-stricken or otherwise vulnerable. Since 2009, the IFC has focused on a set of development goals that its projects are expected to target. Its goals are to increase sustainable agriculture opportunities, improve health and education, increase access to financing for microfinance and business clients, advance infrastructure, help small businesses grow revenues, and invest in climate health.
The IFC is owned and governed by its member countries, but has its own executive leadership and staff that conduct its normal business operations. It is a corporation whose shareholders are member governments that provide paid-in capital and which have the right to vote on its matters. Originally more financially integrated with the World Bank Group, the IFC was established separately and eventually became authorized to operate as a financially autonomous entity and make independent investment decisions. It offers an array of debt and equity financing services and helps companies face their risk exposures, while refraining from participating in a management capacity. The corporation also offers advice to companies on making decisions, evaluating their impact on the environment and society, and being responsible. It advises governments on building infrastructure and partnerships to further support private sector development.
The corporation is assessed by an independent evaluator each year. In 2011, its evaluation report recognized that its investments performed well and reduced poverty, but recommended that the corporation define poverty and expected outcomes more explicitly to better-understand its effectiveness and approach poverty reduction more strategically. The corporation's total investments in 2011 amounted to $18.66 billion. It committed $820 million to advisory services for 642 projects in 2011, and held $24.5 billion worth of liquid assets. The IFC is in good financial standing and received the highest ratings from two independent credit rating agencies in 2010 and 2011.