Who We Are

ICF-SME is incorporated under Iraqi law as a private non-bank financial institution, regulated by Central Bank of Iraq, with unique capability to allocate its resources to qualifying private commercial bank shareholders which on-lend at attractive rates to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). The Company’s short-term objective is prudent and efficient channeling of its resources through a motivated banking network that offers loans to SMEs. Longer term, the company’s objective is to leverage off the success in expanding this loan volume by attracting additional funding for continuing SME development.

HISTORY

  • ICF-SME was incorporated on May 18, 2009. Its nine founding shareholders, working in partnership with the USAID-Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program, remain the company’s network of bank lenders offering loans under the Program.
  • Commencing with a $6 million USAID grant as starter capital in June 2009, the ICF-SME bank network launched a countrywide program offering loans to qualified SME borrowers, in most cases seeking bank loans for the very first time, at below market rates. Moreover, as encouraged by this program, the lenders co-fund in aggregate almost 25% of loans with their own resources.
  • By April 30, 2012 the Company had facilitated the financing of 1,656 loans to SME’s averaging about $18,000 per loan, totaling almost $30 million. This has been possible through the efficient recycling of first generation loan repayments into new (second generation) loans, co-funding by participant banks, and more recently, with new funding to implement the loan program for displaced entrepreneurs reviving their businesses (IVGS).

Founding Shareholders / Participant Banks:

Ashur International Bank; National Bank of Iraq; Basra International Bank; Bank of Baghdad; Mosul Bank for Investment and Development; Gulf Commercial Bank; Iraq Middle East Bank for Investment; North Bank for Financing & Investment; Sumer Commercial Bank.

The Shareholder banks through USAID / Tijara’s technical assistance, continue to strengthen their diagnostic, credit analysis, risk monitoring, and relationship management skills. This stimulates greater lender interest in the SME loan market and greater confidence in managing an expanding SME loan portfolio.

The founding shareholders, with collective representation in all 18 Iraqi provinces, are progressively penetrating new segments of the SME market. But compared to SME loan volume as a percentage of GDP in other countries in the MENA region, however, Iraqi lenders still have a very long distance to go before they can catch up.

To qualify in the ICF-SME lending program a private commercial bank must be a registered financial institution conforming to Central Bank of Iraq requirements and demonstrating to ICF-SME a functioning, dedicated SME lending unit-physical infrastructure, supportive credit and personnel policies, training, and senior management commitment to professionalism. An Operating Agreement governs key aspects of financing activities with special attention to loan origination, monitoring and loan reporting for ICF-SME’s as required by USAID/Tijara.