OPIC and Global Communities Celebrate Seven Years of Successful Support to Entrepreneurs in Lebanon
November 3, 2014
Washington, DC – Global Communities and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) are pleased to celebrate the completion of a 2007-signed Loan Guaranty Facility in Lebanon, in which OPIC provided a seven-year guaranty to four partner banks in Lebanon, to encourage lending during a period of economic instability following the war in 2006.
Throughout the life of the guaranty facility, Vitas s.a.l., Global Communities’ microfinance institution in Lebanon, made over 36,000 loans worth over $69.5 million dollars to underserved entrepreneurs and households. Of this total amount, just over $600,000 was required to cover defaulted loans, an amount which comes to only 0.8% of total loans made. The impact of the facility goes far beyond just the numbers; however, in jobs created and lives improved. In addition, this facility sparked a new phase of innovation and partnership between Global Communities and OPIC, with a total of four additional loan guaranty facilities being signed between the two institutions between 2007 and 2014, including a second facility in Lebanon last year.
“OPIC has been an invaluable partner in our quest to expand outreach in the places where we lend,” says Elissa McCarter, Vice President of Development Finance at Global Communities and CEO of Vitas Group. “They have seen opportunity where others have seen risk – from Lebanon to Iraq to the West Bank, Egypt and Jordan, they have helped us get funding out to the entrepreneurs and households when they most desperately need it. Their long-term investments, such as this guaranty and the others that have come since, are what allow us to have a real, continued impact in the communities where we work.”
“Today marks a terrific milestone. Through OPIC’s partnership with Global Communities, over 36,000 loans have been made to Lebanese small and medium enterprises, supporting tens of thousands of jobs during a challenging economic period,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “Building on our excellent cooperation with Global Communities on SME lending in the region, this partnership has not only supported entrepreneurship and job growth in Lebanon, but also advanced the capacity of local lending institutions to continue this important work going forward. Increasing access to finance is one of the foundations of economic growth in emerging markets, and OPIC alongside Global Communities has addressed this challenge head-on in Lebanon. This is yet another example of a well-structured project that advances OPIC’s development mission while returning money to U.S. taxpayers.”
ABOUT VITAS S.A.L
Vitas s.a.l. was founded by Global Communities in 1999 as a micro-credit program and is now a leading microfinance institution in Lebanon. Vitas became a shareholding company in 2003, and in 2007 registered with the Central Bank of Lebanon to become the first Lebanese financial institution specializing in microfinance. In 2012, the company’s entry to Vitas Group and resulting investment capital enabled it to expand direct lending capacities, thereby drastically increasing their ability to bring commercial capital to low-income communities who are underserved by traditional financial markets. For more information visit www.vitaslebanon.com or www.vitasgroup.com.
ABOUT GLOBAL COMMUNITIES
Global Communities is an international non-profit organization founded in 1952 that works closely with communities worldwide to bring about sustainable changes that improve the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable. Global Communities began working in Lebanon in 1999, and believes that the people who understand their needs best are the people of the community itself. Learn more at www.globalcommunities.org.
OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.
Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 150 countries worldwide. To date, OPIC has supported more than $200 billion of investment in over 4,000 projects, generated an estimated $76 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 278,000 American jobs.