Engineers Without Borders Calls on Ottawa to Fix Access to Commercial Finance for Development

Engineers Without Borders Calls on Ottawa to Fix Access to Commercial Finance for Development

June 2, 2014

Engineers Without Borders Calls on Ottawa to Fix Access to Commercial Finance for Development

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – Today, over 30 members of Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) met with 55 Members of Parliament, to propose that Canada establish a Development Finance Institution (DFI) to help increase access to finance for companies looking to do business in developing countries.

Canada is the only G7 country without a DFI – a government institution that provides financing and responsible investment to companies that want to work in developing countries. DFIs are unique because they invest in businesses often considered too risky for traditional investors, and have a track record of fostering growth in low-income countries while remaining self-sustaining.

“A thriving private sector is an important engine of sustainable development. We know this first-hand in Canada, where small and medium sized businesses employ 56% of all workers and generate almost 40% the country’s GDP,” said James Haga, EWB’s Director of Advocacy and Policy. “Canada is already working to help the private sector in developing countries stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Now is the time for Canada to amplify its impact by establishing a DFI that builds on the over 40 years of experience from other G7 countries and is purpose-built to leverage Canada’s assets and complement our other vital development tools, such as foreign aid.”

“Development Finance Institutions have a long history of making profits by doing good. Britain’s CDC has not drawn on the public purse for over 15 years. The United States’ OPIC earns $8 dollars for U.S. taxpayers for each dollar they invest in its overhead” remarked Brett House, Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

Haga and House welcomed Development Minister Christian Paradis' recent appointment as Chair of the World Economic Forum's Redesigning Development Finance Steering Committee. Building on this international leadership role, they noted the Canadian Government has an opportunity to engage more comprehensively with the private sector in addressing global development challenges.

The Canadian private sector also sees value in this opportunity. A May 2014 report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recommended the creation of a Canadian DFI as one tool that Government should employ to bolster opportunities for—and positive impacts of— Canadian companies working abroad.

“The private sector plays an essential role in economic development,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO if the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, “Expanding the range of innovative financing tools at Canada's disposal to mitigate investment risks in developing countries would make our aid strategy more effective and create opportunities for Canadian businesses to bring their capital, technology and expertise to the table.”

Sasha Caldera
Campaigns Strategist, Engineers Without Borders Canada