From water and sanitation to telecommunications and the internet, IDB Invest has participated in a range of deals over the past year as part of a new strategy to drive social development in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to James Scriven, CEO of the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
“We came up with three basic ideas to have a broader impact,” says Scriven.
These include diversifying the sectors where IDB invests, as well as diversifying its funding, often switching from dollars to local currency, he says. Finally, the multilateral wanted to move more people into local markets instead of concentrating staff in its Washington DC headquarters.
“We had to be closer to our clients,” according to Scriven, who points out that IDB Invest now has 100 field personnel spread across 25 countries.
The multilateral has strengthened its involvement with the technology, media and telecom sectors, financing transactions with Telefónica in Chile and Ecuador, Claro in Guatemala, and Millicom in Panama and Costa Rica.
Among its most notable deals of the year, IDB Invest teamed up with Telefónica del Peru, Facebook and CAF, to invest $15.5 million in equity for Internet para Todas, which will provide internet access in Peru. It also contributed $40 million to a $119.5 million syndicated loan to build a resort in an impoverished area of the Dominican Republic. Scheduled to open in 2021, the resort is expected to create 1,800 jobs during construction. When it opens, the resort is expected to employ 500.
Scriven says education and sustainability are also priorities and sees an expanded role for gender bonds. In August, IDB Invest and Panama’s Banistmo announced that they were issuing a $50 million gender bond to help women-led small and medium size companies.