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Six decades in service of development




We were born in 1959 with a mandate and a calling: to improve lives for the diverse peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean by enabling development, in all of its forms. This year, we mark six decades in pursuit of that goal. 


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As in the life of a person, 60 years in the life of the IDB have included moments of growth and moments of achievement, moments that have humbled and moments that have inspired. And, of course, there are the stories along the way – big and small, across the 26 countries where we work – that reveal true impact, on a human scale. 

Here are some of them.

Out of the ashes - Costa Rica, 1965

“San José was the cleanest city in Latin America until March 14, 1963. That day, the Irazú volcano erupted. For 700 days, ash fell like black snow. The only ones who were happy were the broom sellers. That was the IDB’s first project in response to a natural disaster: a loan of $5.2 million to help the affected farms recover.”
- Christel Steinvorth, former IDB specialist, Knowledge and Learning Division

Learn how we continue to support countries in managing natural-disaster risks here.


Costa Rica anecdote



Innovating energy - Brazil, 1977

“In 1977, when I joined the IDB, I visited the Aerospace Technical Center, a Brazilian research center that we supported. They were testing a vehicle that worked with ethyl alcohol, derived from sugarcane, that was mixed with gasoline. It was a true innovation, especially in a world that had just suffered an oil shock. The technology spread globally, and it is still used today.”
- Armando José Namis, former IDB specialist in education, science and technology

Between 2016 and 2018 alone, clean energy projects financed by the IDB have prevented 12.2 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. See how Brazil’s energy sector has continued to evolve since Armando Namis’s visit here.


Brasil Anecdote


Transforming financing - 1995

“The IDB played a decisive role in the growth of microfinance in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was a bold move at the time, but microcredit was important because it helped low-income entrepreneurs, especially women, to build their businesses. Today, the industry is sophisticated and sustainable, and serves about 20 million people throughout the region. ”
- Sandra Darville, former unit chief of IDB Lab, the Bank’s innovation laboratory

Between 2016 and 2019, the IDB’s varied economic empowerment initiatives have benefited nearly 1.1 million women throughout region. During the same period, our programs have trained or advised almost 120,000 professionals from the public and private sectors in economic integration.


Meet Edith Aliaga, a Peruvian small business owner and and IDB beneficiary (in Spanish)




Opening doors - Paraguay, 2004

“In Paraguay, there was no long-term financing. If a family wanted to buy a home, they had to save for a lifetime or build their own house, a slow, expensive and uncertain process. With the support of the IDB, the Financial Development Agency was created. Thus the mortgage market began to develop, allowing more and more families to access credit and the dream of their own home. ”
- Manuel Fernandini, senior specialist, IDB Capital Markets and Financial Institutions Division, Paraguay

With the help of the IDB, countries in our region have built or upgraded some 385,000 homes between 2016 and 2018. Another 969,000 homes have received new or improved access to sanitation services. 

In Trinidad and Tobago, we financed an innovative mechanism to help vulnerable communities access housing.




Problem-solving in motion - Jamaica, 2009

“Increased connectivity, reduced travel times and safer commuting are all benefits of the Transjamaica Highway project, a 230-kilometer network that connects Kingston with outlying regions. Following the global financial crisis, IDB Invest provided financing for the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing stretch of toll road. We also facilitated the construction of a new fishing village for the fisherfolk who were displaced as a result of the construction.”
- Rafael Matas Trillo, lead investment officer at IDB Invest, the IDB Group’s private sector arm

Read more about IDB Invest, our private sector financing arm, here.


Anecdote pic

The Transjamaican Highway, built with the support of IDB Invest, connects the island's capital Kingston with the country.


Fly to work: Learn here how this project changed the lives of thousands of Bolivians in La Paz (in Spanish)



Learning without limits - 2014

Five years ago, the IDB joined MIT and Harvard’s edX platform for massive, open, online courses, or MOOCs. Since then, one million students from across Latin America and the Caribbean have entered this virtual classroom. We offer more than 90 courses in four languages.

"In addition to being a bank that finances projects, we are a bank that learns, experiences and shares open knowledge to solve development problems in Latin America and the Caribbean."
- Federico Basañes, manager of the IDB's Knowledge, Innovation and Communication Sector

To learn more about our courses, click here.

Lorena López, one of our MOOC students from Veracruz, México: "The course has significantly improved my professional life" (in Spanish)



In the past 60 years, we have disbursed more than 250 billion dollars for projects that have benefited tens of millions of people. In that time, our region has undergone profound changes, and our work has also been transformed. Today, "development" means not only building key infrastructure and modernizing public services, but also leveraging research, forging private partnerships and incubating innovation to stimulate growth.

“There is no doubt that people in our region live much longer, healthier and more prosperous lives today than our grandparents did. But our work is far from done. Our countries face disruptions caused by climate change, the digital revolution, international crime, migration and other forces. People are also demanding much more from their governments. They want better services, more accountability and tangible enhancements to their quality of life."
- Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB president

Today, the Bank continues its evolution to meet the changing needs of the people we serve. Sixty years was just the beginning.

For more information about our anniversary, visit the official page of #IDB60 here.

Improving Lives