The World Bank Group

The World Bank Group is a family of international development agencies that provides public and private sector financing in developing and emerging economies.  Click here to see examples of World Bank-funded projects that include business opportunities for the private sector.  The World Bank is not a “bank” in the common sense. It is one of the United Nations’ specialized agencies. Almost every country in the world is a member of the World Bank. These member countries are jointly responsible for how the institution is capitalized and how its money is spent.

The United States is represented on the Bank Group's Board of Directors. In terms of the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (IBRD), the United States has the largest share of paid-in capital, representing 16.8 percent of the total. Thus, the U.S. is the largest shareholder in the Bank and has the greatest number of board votes.

Established in 1944 during a conference held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the World Bank is headquartered in Washington, DC, and it employs approximately 10,000 people with representative offices in more than 100 countries worldwide. The World Bank Group comprises five closely associated institutions that collarborate to support development projects worldwide:

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The International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (IBRD), the oldest of the World Bank Group institutions, aims to reduce poverty in middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries by promoting sustainable development through loans, guarantees, risk management products, and (nonlending) analytic and advisory services. IBRD has 185 member countries.  IBRD's commitments in FY06 totaled $14.1 billion.

 

 

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The International Development Association (IDA) provides highly concessional financing to the world's 81 poorest countries. IDA's interest-free credits and grants help support country-led proverty reduction strategies in key policy areas, including raising productivity, providing accountable governance, building a healthy investment climate, and improving access to basic services, including education and health care. IDA has 166 member countries. IDA's commitments in FY06 totaled $9.5 billion.

 

 

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the private-sector investment entity of the World Bank Group. It invests in sustainable private enterprises in developing and transitional countries without requiring sovereign guarantees. It provides equity, long-term loans, structured finance and risk management products, as well as technical assistance and advisory services to its clients. IFC has 179 member countries.  IFC's commitments in FY06 totaled $8.2 billion.

 

 

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The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provides noncommercial guarantees (insurance) for foreign direct investment in developing countries. It addresses concerns about investment environments and perceptions of risk, which often inhibit investment, by providing political risk insurance. MIGA's guarantees offer investors protection against noncommercial risks such as expropriation, currency inconvertibility, breach of contract, war, and civil disturbance. MIGA has 171 member countries.  MIGA's issuances in FY06 totaled $1.3 billion.

 

 

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The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is designed to facilitate the settlement of investment disputes between foreign investors and host states. It encourages foreign investment by providing neutral international facilities for conciliation and arbitration of investment disputes, thereby fostering an atmosphere of mutual confidence between states and foreign investors. Many international agreements concerning investment refer to ICSID's arbitration facilities. ICSID has 143 member countries.