Development finance standards

Development finance institutions and private sector development


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National and international development finance institutions (DFIs) are specialised development banks or subsidiaries set up to support private sector development in developing countries. They are usually majority-owned by national governments and source their capital from national or international development funds or benefit from government guarantees. This ensures their creditworthiness, which enables them to raise large amounts of money on international capital markets and provide financing on very competitive terms.

Bilateral DFIs

Bilateral DFIs are either independent institutions, such as the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), or part of larger bilateral development banks, such as the German Investment and Development Company (DEG), which is part of the German development bank KfW. They are both among the largest DFIs worldwide. The main bilateral DFIs include:

OeEB (Austria)

BIO (Belgium)

BMI-SBI (Belgium)

FinDev Canada (Canada)

IFU (Denmark)

Finnfund (Finland)

AFD/Proparco (France)

KfW/DEG (Germany)


FMO (Netherlands)

Norfund (Norway)

SOFID (Portugal)


Swedfund (Sweden)

SIFEM (Switzerland)

CDC Group (United Kingdom)

OPIC (United States)


Multilateral DFIs

Multilateral DFIs are private sector arms of international financial institutions (IFIs) that have been established by more than one country, and hence are subject to international law. Their shareholders are generally national governments but could also occasionally include other international or private institutions. These institutions finance projects in support of the private sector mainly through equity investments, long-term loans and guarantees. They usually have a greater financing capacity than bilateral development banks and also act as a forum for close co-operation among governments. The main multilateral DFIs include:

AFDB (African Development Bank)

ADB (Asian Development Bank)

EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

EIB (European Investment Bank)

IDB (Inter-American Development Bank)

IFC (International Finance Corporation)

ISDB (Islamic Development Bank)


Further information



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