Dubai: The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, focused on the private sector in emerging markets committed investments worth $1.7 billion (Dh6.24 billion) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017.

The IFC investments in the region were largely focused on private sector efforts to boost innovation, drive economic growth and create jobs.

The finance body provided over $1.7 billion including mobilisation in financing this year, an increase of around 30 per cent compared with the previous year.

In the 2016 fiscal year, the IFC committed $1.3 billion in the Mena region, including $331 million in mobilisation.

IFC’s focus was on creating new markets, supporting power and renewable energy projects, and fostering entrepreneurs, including those who run high-potential technology start-ups.

IFC also worked to increase economic opportunities in countries such as Lebanon and Jordan hosting large refugee populations.

“Mena is a region full of potential,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC director for the Middle East and North Africa. “But long-standing problems like power shortages, youth unemployment, and restricted access to finance continue to hold back economic growth. To overcome these hurdles, countries need to support the development of their private sectors, which are a potentially bountiful source of jobs and innovation.”

As part of a new strategy to support Mena start-ups, IFC invested over $11 million in two Egyptian start-up accelerators, Algebra Ventures and Flat6Labs. IFC also supported Network International, a leading provider of payment solutions, to expand the payment infrastructure in the Middle East and North Africa.

Among other key projects over the last fiscal year, IFC invested to support the construction of a new gas-fired power plant in Jordan. The facility will be one of Jordan’s most efficient and help the country phase out older, more polluting plants.

IFC also made its first green bond investment in Mena, committing €100 million (Dh440.3 million) in a bond issuance by Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP), the first such issuance in foreign currency in Morocco. The aim is to help create a sustainable financing mechanism for banks to support long-term investments in green assets.

IFC also runs a large advisory services programme in the region, which had 94 active projects valued at over $125 million by the end of the fiscal year. That work is focused on supporting refugees, bolstering infrastructure development, especially in conflict-affected states, reducing gender inequality, expanding access to finance for smaller businesses, and combating climate change.

In the coming fiscal year, IFC plans to maintain its strategic focus on creating new markets across Mena by supporting the region’s fast-growing renewable energy sector and helping young entrepreneurs deliver innovations.

Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, IFC uses its capital, expertise and influence to create markets and opportunities for businesses. In fiscal 2017, the global development institution delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries.