World Bank Group increases COVID-19 funding, outlines lending plans

Our COVID-19 coverage is free. Please consider a Devex Pro subscription to support our journalism.
World Bank President David Malpass addresses the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus at a press conference. Photo by: World Bank / Simone D. McCourtie / CC BY-NC-ND

WASHINGTON — The World Bank Group has announced an additional $2 billion in funding to help with the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing its commitment to $14 billion in funds that will support national health systems, disease containment, diagnosis, treatment, and the private sector.

“Not only is this pandemic costing lives, but its impact on economies and living standards will likely outlive the health emergency phase.”

— Philippe Le Houérou, CEO, International Finance Corporation

The boards of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation approved the “fast-track” funding package Tuesday. The $2 billion in additional funds, which was added to what had been announced previously, will come from IFC.

Most of IFC’s $8 billion in financing will go to financial institutions so they can lend to businesses, providing either trade financing, working capital, or medium-term financing to help companies weather disruptions resulting from the pandemic. IFC will also help existing clients from sectors that are impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and will help sectors involved in the response, such as health care and related industries that face increased demand for services.

The World Bank has already started supporting countries, but the new funding is intended to “help sustain economies, companies and jobs,” said David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group, in a statement. “It’s essential that we shorten the time to recovery. This package provides urgent support to businesses and their workers to reduce the financial and economic impact of the spread of COVID-19.”

IFC has already allocated some funding, expanding trade finance limits for four Vietnamese banks to a total of $294 million so they can continue lending to companies, especially small- and medium-sized businesses. IFC is working to get the funding out the door quickly, but it will continue to use environmental, social governance, and compliance criteria, as it’s done in past crisis responses, the institution said in a statement.

“Not only is this pandemic costing lives, but its impact on economies and living standards will likely outlive the health emergency phase,” IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou said in a statement. “By ensuring our clients sustain their operations during this time, we hope the private sector in the developing world will be better equipped to help economies recover more quickly.”

About the author

  • Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is a Senior Reporter at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.