The newly-appointed country manager will focus on developing new strategies for private sector growth
To focus on developing new opportunities and stragegies for private sector investments as the region recovers from the impacts of Covid-19, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has appointed Martin Holtmann as the new Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
Responding through an email, Country Manager, Martin Holtmann, said the IFC is the largest global development organization working with the private sector. “Our core mandate is to reduce poverty and boost people’s prosperity.”
Further, he said that it is important to remember that IFC’s requirements for robust performance standards in its projects are a natural fit for Bhutan with its growth philosophy which is centered around Gross National Happiness.
He further said that IFC has been working in Bhutan to support the country’s inclusive and sustainable development agenda with a strong focus on job creation, and economic and environmental resilience.
Holtmann added that he would work to promote IFC’s impact on climate, gender, and green growth, as well as build country portfolios and diversify investments in the private sector.
“IFC recognizes that the impact of Covid-19 continues to pose new challenges as well as opportunities for the private sector to contribute more to rebuilding the economy. IFC’s strategic priorities remain in the areas of supporting financial inclusion and agribusiness in the country. It remains open to providing financial assistance to larger, privately-led enterprises in the manufacturing and other sectors,” Holtmann said.
Meanwhile, according to IFC, key sectors for future investment opportunities in the region include transport and logistics, clean energy, financial services, tourism, agribusiness, healthcare, and housing.
As Bhutan decides to diversify its economy away from hydropower and given the impact of Covid-19 on tourism and other economic sectors, he said that IFC can help Bhutan in developing its agribusiness, financial sector, and cottage industries.
In addition IFC can also help structure large public-private partnerships (PPPs), which can be an effective way to bring in private sector financing and free up public funds for other needs.
Martin Holtmann, a German national, joined IFC in 2007. Prior to his appointment, he was Global Sector Manager for Financial Inclusion, helping IFC to reach millions of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with traditional and digital financial services and strengthened more than 200 partner institutions through investment and advisory support.
“Martin’s background experience will be invaluable as IFC deepens its work in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal,” said Hector Gomez Ang, IFC’s Regional Director for South Asia.
“This is a time of new challenges and opportunities and I am confident Martin will be successful in leading IFC’s efforts to strengthen and diversify its work in the three countries in support of a green and resilient recovery,” Ang said.
Commenting on his new role, Holtmann said, “I am very pleased to be working in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. These countries have shown remarkable resilience in the face of strong economic headwinds and fiscal pressures and I look forward to redoubling IFC efforts to create markets and promote sustainable development.”
Meanwhile, Holtmann is a graduate of the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, Canada, and holds two master’s degrees in Economics from Trier University, Germany, and in Public Administration from Harvard University, United States. He succeeds Wendy Werner, who has taken on a new role as IFC’s Country Head in India, after successfully serving as the Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal Country Manager for six years.
Before joining IFC, Holtmann worked as Lead Financial Specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) in the World Bank, and as managing director of a consulting firm in the private sector. He is also one of the core authors of the 2022 World Development Report, “Financing for an Equitable Recovery”.
A press release from the IFC states that IFC has invested nearly $8-billion to help private sector growth in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal since 2000.
“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, IFC has provided a total of $270-million in working capital solutions to banks and liquidity support to companies. These investments are made to help keep businesses afloat, resume exports, and preserve jobs, which are critical to sustaining national economies,” it states.