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MIF, NORFUND and LAFISE sign memorandum of understanding to establish investment fund for small business in Central America

NEW ORLEANS -- Representatives of the Multilateral Investment Fund, the Norwegian Risk Capital fund for Developing Countries, and LAFISE today signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of an investment fund that will finance long-term capital needs, competitiveness, and modernization of small businesses in Central America. This fund will be the first of its kind in Central America to focus exclusively on smaller businesses.

The fund will provide up to $25 million in equity resources for Central American small enterprises in need of alternative sources of financing. The MIF will contribute up to $7.5 million to the fund, in addition to $100,000 in technical assistance; Norfund will contribute up to $5 million, plus $100,000 in technical assistance; and LAFISE will manage the fund and contribute $250,000.

The LAFISE Group was created in 1985 by Roberto Zamora and now covers all of Central America through three commercial banks, seven brokerage houses, eight foreign exchange houses, two leasing companies, and one insurance company.

Norfund is a Norwegian state-owned investment fund, providing risk capital to developing countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. This is the second investment Norfund makes together with the MIF, and the fund will be directly represented in the fund management company alongside of LAFISE.

Inter-American Development Bank President Enrique V. Iglesias signed on behalf of the MIF; Mehraz Rafat, project chief, signed for Norfund, and Roberto Zamora, President, signed for LAFISE.

The Multilateral Investment Fund is an autonomous fund, administered by the Inter-American Development Bank, that promotes private sector growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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