International Finance Corporation (IFC) has named Spanish economist Irene Arias as its director for Latin America and the Caribbean. Based in Bogota, Colombia, Arias will oversee IFC’s Investment and Advisory Services operations in 34 countries across the region, where IFC has a combined investment portfolio of $11.9 billion in private sector projects and Advisory Services programs worth $80.3 million.
During this fiscal year, IFC has lent $6.5 billion to 129 projects, raising its commitments to the region by about 30% from last year. Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for 26% of IFC’s total global commitments – the largest share of any region.
In 2012, the World Bank Group subsidiary approved 20 new Advisory Services projects for $14.8 million. The IFC has also raised millions of dollars from private investors to fund LATAM developmental projects.
“The private sector is responsible for more than 90% of jobs and its innovations and expertise are vital to improving living standards in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Arias said. “We are committed to helping address the region’s most pressing challenges through our in-depth sector expertise, long-term partnerships, and ability to mobilize investment partners.”
IFC says it clients support about two million jobs in the region and one in eight people benefit from the infrastructure projects that it funds. “In the financial sector, our clients have provided 29 million loans valued at $217 billion to micro, small and medium enterprises,” IFC stated.
Until last week, Arias was IFC’s Regional Manager for the Andean region, overseeing the Corporation’s operations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. She was part of the team that developed IFC’s Asset Management Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of IFC which manages over $5.5 billion of capital across six investment funds.
A Spanish national, Arias holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Carlos III University in Madrid, an M.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, and an M.A. in Advanced European Studies from the College of Europe.