ICC agreed to strengthen its strategic alliance with the World Bank during a meeting in Paris last spring between Anthony Parkes, Director of the World Chambers Federation (WCF), and Gilles Garcia, PSLO Programme Manager at the World Bank.
Since the two organizations partnered together in 1999, ICC has participated in a range of joint projects with the World Bank, including the facilitation of business partnerships as well as capacity building programmes. The latest joint project has resulted in the number of business associations and chambers serving as PSLOs reaching 100, with the recent addition of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mali.
PSLO officers receive Bank training to help facilitate local business access to World Bank products and services, from procurement to working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other sources of the Bank’s private sector financing.
The ultimate aim of the PSLO programme is to increase trade and investment in developing countries with the support of the World Bank.
By tapping the chamber community, an important interface with local businesses everywhere, the Bank aims to strengthen and expand its communications with the private sector throughout the world. It is particularly interested in finding appropriate partners in China and the Middle East.
“I believe our designation as a PSLO representative will create a link between the World Bank and Chilean companies,” said Carmen Fuentealba, a new PSLO member from the Santiago Chamber of Commerce in Chile. “This will improve the knowledge of Chilean companies of the products and services the World Bank Group offers. It will also give these companies access to valuable information and business opportunities.”
There have been a number of recent successes. For example, the Bank’s Invest in the Balkans programme drew 82 expressions of investment interest. In Kenya, the PSLO secured financing from the International Finance Corporation to restructure six local enterprises. The programme has provided technical assistance for capacity building of the Federation of Congolese Enterprises, a PSLO member.
Recent PSLO activities also include: support of a joint business delegation of 56 companies to visit Ethiopia and Sudan to explore business opportunities, and a series of seminars on investment opportunities in the Western Balkans, sponsored by the PSLO organizations throughout Europe. In Canada, six PSLOs organized a boot camp to educate local companies about the workings of international financial institutions.
The PSLO network is also informing the private sector about the Bank’s strategic framework for climate change and development.
Today, a seminar on energy efficiency for German companies was held in Cologne with support from the German Office for Foreign Trade.
Future events include a series of visits by an Australian business delegation to South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria organized by the PSLO for Australia, Austrade.