In 2003, The Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries decided to support a business project in Sierra Leone for the first time. By doing so, IFU does not only contribute to the economic development in the poor country. The project also focuses on human rights and values in a country which has not yet recovered from ten years of civil war.
In 2003, IFU co-financed the establishment of 24 new businesses in developing countries in cooperation with Danish companies.
Through its investments IFU helps promote economic growth and employment and hence the standard of living in the poorest countries in the world. IFU contributes with active advice and risk capital in the form of loans and subscription for shares. In addition to the investments in 24 new project companies, IFU injected additional capital into 13 existing projects. Total investments in new and existing companies amounted to DKK 465m, compared to DKK 360m in 2002, and they were divided on 21 countries. The new projects are estimated to create direct employment of 6,600 local employees.
Focus on human rights
Together with the Danish company, Kjaer Group, IFU decided in 2003 to finance the establishment of a sales and service company for cars and motorcycles in Sierra Leone. IFU has previously supported two projects in Africa with Kjaer Group as a partner: In Mozambique and in Uganda.
Kjaer Group – which was elected “Best workplace in Denmark” in November 2003 – puts emphasis on making a difference in the countries in which it operates. As is the case with all companies with which IFU cooperates, the Kjaer Group accedes to IFU’s Code of Conduct, which states that project companies must emphasise human rights, social responsibility, health and safety of the employees and on-going improvement of external environment and work environment.
Sierra Leone among the very poorest
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, and with a per capita income of USD 140 (2002) it is near the bottom of the World Bank’s list. The traces of the ten-year long civil war have far from been erased, and two years after it still affects the development in a very negative way. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs still describes the situation in Sierra Leone as worrying; however, the UN peace keeping forces deployed in the country in 1999 are starting to leave.
Sierra Leone is a high risk investment country, and Mads Kjær, Managing Director of the Kjaer Group, emphasises the importance of IFU sharing the risk. And this is exactly the purpose of the Fund.
“With risk capital IFU can encourage Danish companies to take more chances in the poorest parts of the world and hereby help promote development, reduce poverty and improve the standard of living”, says Sven Riskær, Managing Director of IFU.
For further information, please contact:
Sven Riskær, Managing Director, tel. +45 33 63 75 00
Copenhagen, 21 January 2004