DFC Celebrates 60 Year Anniversary
60 years of existence is quite a milestone for the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). Today the organization hosted a special ceremony at the Biltmore Plaza where Prime Minister John Briceno was a special guest. Prime Minister Briceno, in an interview with the media, spoke on the company’s milestone, saying that many success stories have begun with the DFC issuing loans to small businesses, students and housing.
Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “For six decades the DFC has played a pivotal role in the economic development and progress of Belize. As a leading financial institution the DFC has been instrumental in providing access to affordable financing, promoting entrepreneurship and foster sustainable growth across various sectors of our nation’s economy. Throughout this journey the DFC has remained committed to its mission of empowering Belizeans by providing them with the necessary resources to realize their dreams by offering innovative financial solutions the DFC supported countless individuals and small businesses and communities in their pursuit of prosperity and self sufficiency.”
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Christopher Coye, was also a speaker at this morning’s event. Coye spoke on the level of neglect that the DFC had endured, particularly, under the previous administration.
Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “And as the past administration ignored the potential of the DFC the DFC itself largely remained at a standstill with a stagnant if not contracting loan portfolio and recurring losses. This all changed under the current administration of our Honorable Prime Minister John Briceno which breathed life back into the DFC. Recognizing the value that DFC can bring to the country’s development this Briceno administration in spite of the many financial challenges faced took the decision to make the largest equity investment in DFC’s history thorough a creative $31.6 million debt equity conversion. The support by this administration did not stop there however. In furtherance of its Plan Belize policies to support small business and the entrepreneurial spirit of our people this government has since assisted in the loan to DFC of $30 million from the IDB for small business, $10 million from Taiwan to DFC for small businesses led by women, $20 million from SSB for housing loans and now most recently $25 million from the Caribbean Development Bank on highly concessionary terms to finance agricultural and industrial credit for small businesses crucial to the economic development of the productive sector of Belize and in order to alleviate poverty. Understanding this administration’s underlying objective to achieve full employment and economic sovereignty not only through small business support but also through export development and climate friendly economic diversification DFC has taken up the mantle to support new sectors in the green, blue and orange economies that either save foreign exchange or generate foreign exchange that support the currency peg. These include the support of climate resilient cattle production and export, sustainable energy loans and financing of BPO nearshoring opportunities. DFC is now at the forefront of the revival of the shrimp industry while exploring blue economy sustainable livelihood efforts in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund led Project Finance for Permanence. DFC is also well progressed in its path to accreditation with the Green Climate Fund which will enable it to access highly concessionary climate and biodiversity financing to assist Belize to assist Paris Agreement goals by 2030 and net zero by 2050.”
As we noted, with any great achievement, a reflection of the past is expected. Today, Administrative Assistant at the DFC, Melissa Bennett, was tasked with reflecting on the turbulence and successes of the organization. Here are highlights of Bennett’s presentation.
Melissa Robinson Bennett, Administrative Assistant Risk Management and Compliance DFC: “In 2004 amidst the growing concerns the government announced the liquidation of the DFC. This was in November of 2004 and by that time when the rumors were going around our clients unfortunately began to withhold their payments because of the uncertainties and so this led to the increase in our nonperforming portfolio. And so this is the part that we don’t necessarily like to talk about, the not so fun times of DFC but it has been what has shaped who we are today. So in 2005 there was a Commission of Inquiry which was tasked to investigate the operations of the DFC for the period 1999-2004. Now notwithstanding all the uncertainties of the DFC the DFC can proudly say that they were able to meet all their foreign financial obligations without the government’s assistance. 2013 was a memorable time. It’s when the DFC celebrated 50 years of existence and true to style and form the DFC celebrated in grand fashion. There was a rebranding campaign as part of the celebration and the formation of the new logo that we see there changed from the tractor and the house to what we currently use as our logo. During that time we realized profits of $3.2 million dollars and there was the adoption of the five year business plan. 2016 investor confidence. The DFC came a long way and is still moving forward and we know that we’re doing well when partners such as the CDB are willing to continue to finance us. The CDB approved a $40 million dollar line of credit for onlending, the largest facility extended directly to the DFC. The DFC also became a member of ALIDE and if you were paying attention to what the CEO was saying we know that recently we received an award from ALIDE for being a formidable force in the development finance scene. In 2018 and 2019 the government nominated the DFC for Green Climate Fund accreditation and our lending was focused on climate resilient renewable energy technologies.”
The DFC has indicated that they will soon be launching a rebranding campaign.