ConnectAmericas Infrastructure Community

August 22, 2014

ConnectAmericas Infrastructure Community

Boosting private, sustainable infrastructure investment in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Francisco Estrázulas 

Latin American and Caribbean governments are paving the way for increased private investment in infrastructure. The region is expected to invest at least US$1.5 trillion in infrastructure projects over the next decade, offering huge opportunities for investors and companies in the engineering and construction fields, as well as the myriad of other sectors involved in the infrastructure supply chains.

Brazil alone plans to invest up to US$900 billion to reconstruct its rail and road networks and develop energy projects over the next six years. Mexico foresees investments of US$300 billion over the next four years, particularly in the power generation and telecommunications sectors. Colombia is set to build 8,000 kilometers of roads, at a cost of US$25 billion over six years. Peru estimates investments of US$80 billion to fill the country’s transportation and sanitation gaps.

This pace of investment has to be sustained – and ideally should be doubled, to reach 5% of GDP annually – if the region’s countries hope to bring their infrastructure up to international standards. In light of this need and the widespread fiscal restraint across the region, governments are proactively working to make their investment conditions more attractive to the private sector.

Over the past five years, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have approved new laws and regulations governing Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and set up PPP Units to put them into practice—El Salvador and Paraguay being the latest nations to do so. As this trend continues, its impact becomes more evident. For example, in 2013 Private Equity Funds invested more than US$3.5 billion in infrastructure in the region, more than doubling the US$1.7 billion they invested in 2012. This is also reflected in the number of PPP projects, which grew from 69 in 2010 to more than 118 in 2013.

However, even if conditions are improving for private investment in infrastructure, countries aren’t yet deriving the maximum benefit because competition for these projects remains relatively low.

Why? In part, because international infrastructure developers and investors don´t submit bids on projects, due to a lack of up-to-date, accurate information about the local providers and partners they need to carry out these projects—such as construction material suppliers, machinery maintenance and repair companies, transportation companies, security services companies, and so on. Also, in many countries, these local companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that lack the skills, certifications and expertise that the international developers and investors are looking for.

To bridge that information and skills gap, the Inter-American Development Bank has created an Infrastructure Community on its innovative business social media platform: ConnectAmericas. The site is designed to support companies, especially SMEs, connect with potential clients, suppliers and investors around the world.

The ConnectAmericas Infrastructure Community is a special group within the site aimed at any companies, large and small, interested in doing business related to infrastructure. It will disseminate information about infrastructure tenders in the region, and attach to each tender a list of local partners and providers. For each of these local companies, the platform will provide contact information, a detailed description of the good and services it offers, rating and reviews from previous clients, and references.

Membership in the Infrastructure Community is free of charge, and members will have access to online courses, advisory services, virtual discussion forums, information on available financing from a variety of sources, to help local companies build the skills that large international clients are seeking.

The Infrastructure Community will be launched at The Trade Americas & ConnectAmericas Expo: Building the Americas, organized by the IDB and Latin Trade Group at the JW Marriot Marquis Hotel in Miami, FL on September 3 – 4, 2014. The event features presentations by regional experts on the latest trends and opportunities in energy, logistics, and urban infrastructure; best practices for government entities and firms; as well as a business matchmaking event that will give attendees the opportunity to hold one-on-one meetings with potential clients, partners, suppliers, and financiers.

To join ConnectAmericas, click here. To register to attend the Miami event, click here.

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Tailored to the Middle

April 15, 2014

Tailored to the Middle


Investment in infrastructure in Central America amounts on average to 2 percent of the region’s GDP, only half of what would be considered ideal to help these countries boost their competitiveness.

To help close this gap, the IDB and other development institutions created the first Central American Mezzanine Infrastructure Fund (CAMIF) in 2006 to finance infrastructure projects of mid-sized companies in the subregion and in Colombia and Mexico. The $150 million Fund, which includes a $60 million investment from the IDB, seeks to help firms overcome two major obstacles: first, private investors often overlook smaller markets due to the smaller size of infrastructure projects, and second, long-term financing is scarce for small and medium-sized businesses.

The Fund offers what is called “mezzanine lending,” a financial instrument that combines debt and equity features widely used to finance long-term infrastructure projects. Since its inception, the Fund has partnered largely with family-owned, mid-sized infrastructure companies that share the common goal of linking long-term financial revenues with social and environmental benefits for their communities. Fund management teams work hand-in-hand with the businesses to transfer knowledge about good business practices, environmental and social practices that go beyond [...]

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Pioneers of Green Credit

April 4, 2014

Pioneers of Green Credit


Increasing awareness of climate change has boosted the interest of companies in improving the environmental sustainability of their operations. Aware of this business opportunity, Banco General, Panama’s biggest bank, decided to launch a pioneering “green” financing line in 2009 with financial and technical support from the IDB.

The line targets small-to-medium-sized projects related to energy savings and efficiency, integrated waste management, water and wastewater treatment, renewable energy, and other carbon-mitigating investments, including the construction of energy-efficient buildings. Banco General has also received technical assistance from IDB which helped the bank identify green business opportunities, train its staff, design green eligibility criteria and measures environmental impact of green projects. The initiative helps fill an important gap in financing for environmentally-friendly investments because [...]

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Ugly food never tasted so good

August 14, 2014

Ugly food leads to innovation in fighting hunger

By Cassia Peralta

Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the biggest exporters of food on the planet. Yet, more than 52 million people, or 10 percent of the region’s population, still suffer from hunger and malnutrition. The July 2014 FAO publication Food Loss and Waste in Latin America and the Caribbean has highlighted a significant paradox the region faces. While the region has a sturdy food-production capacity, 6 percent of the total loss and waste of food in the world occurs in Latin America. Poor distribution and access to food has led to this misuse of sources of nutrition that could have met the needs of at least 47 million hungry people in the region.

This means that part of the food available in Latin America is either lost or wasted. Food losses occur when there is a decrease in the food available for human consumption at various stages of the food chain; from production to post-harvest, storage and transport. Food waste occurs when foods that still have nutritional value are discarded by retailers and consumers. The latter is directly related to behavioral patterns and decisions made by food handlers. Not only does it account for the majority of loss within the food chain, but it also represents resources that could meet the needs of more than 60 percent of those who suffer from hunger in the region.

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Salvadoran bank launches financial tool for women-owned businesses

August 2014

Salvadoran bank launches financial tool for women-owned businesses

Global Banking Alliance for Women  highlights G&T Continental Bank and the IDB for new financial instrument “G&T Mujer” 

Women make up 57 percent of the economically active population in El Salvador; however, the portfolios of banks in our country do not reflect these numbers. In this regard, women-owned SMEs represent for us a niche market that can generate loyalty in the long term, thus contributing to our growth and profitability.

With the assistance of the IDB/MIF, we launched a product called “G&T Mujer,” which is a financial solution specifically designed for women-owned businesses. Focusing on this segment, we believe, will increase our portfolio growth and generate significant cross-selling opportunities.

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10 vista aerea 2

IDB and Harvard Are Seeking “Indestructible” Cities

August 6, 2014

IDB and Harvard Are Seeking “Indestructible” Cities

By Forbes Mexico
(Translated )

The Infrastructure 360° project seeks to recognize plans that have a long-term vision from the design, operation and maintenance.

The Latin American challenge to infrastructure is a slope that has yet to solve. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) noted in a 2011 study that countries must invest between 3 and 6% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), when in reality it is less than 2%.

A survey by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to residents of Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City and São Paulo, published in March this year, reveals that the most important challenges for sustainable development are: better transport public, more accessible and less expensive electricity, water and better service.

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