The World Bank Group is the globe’s most influential development lender, bankrolling hundreds of government and corporate projects each year in pursuit of its ambitious mission: to combat extreme poverty by backing new transit systems, power plants, dams, social services and other projects it believes will help boost the fortunes of poor people.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, one of the two lending arms traditionally considered to be the World Bank
Typically lends to middle-income governments, also some creditworthy low-income countries
Founded in 1944
FY 2014 commitments $18.6 billion
Lends at market rate
International Development Association, one of the two lending arms traditionally considered to be the World Bank
Typically lends to low-income governments
Founded in 1960
FY 2014 commitments $22.2 billion
Lends at low interest rate
International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's private lending arm
Typically lends to private firms in developing (low- to middle-income) countries
Founded in 1956
FY 2014 commitments $17.3 billion
Lends at market rate
Invests in private companies
Between 2004 and 2013, the World Bank committed to lend or give at least $338 billion, according to bank data. Its private-lending affiliate, the International Finance Corporation, committed to invest at least $116 billion during the same period in corporations and other banks in pursuit of the overall goal of alleviating poverty.
World Bank lender dollars have brought clean water and electricity to remote villages. But many of the institutions’ most ambitious investments come with a steep cost. Mega-dams, power plants and gold mines financed with World Bank or IFC dollars have cost millions of people their homes, taken their land or damaged their livelihoods.
The World Bank Group is the parent organization for five institutions. Two of them, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association, are most commonly referred to as the “World Bank” and are designed to invest in international development projects. Loans are often favorable to borrowers, offering elastic repayment windows with low interest rates. A third institution under the World Bank Group umbrella, the International Finance Corporation, invests in companies operating in impoverished regions for a profit.
To determine which projects get funding, the bank’s members take a vote. Nearly all of the projects the World Bank invests in are in the developing world, but votes are largely determined by monetary contributions and thus typically controlled by developed countries. A 2010 policy shift gave additional votes to developing nations in an effort to grant them more say in how the bank operates.
The United States is the bank’s largest contributor and holds the most influence. The 10 countries with the greatest influence at the World Bank are listed here, calculated by the percentage of votes each holds for the bank’s three main lending arms: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The World Bank committed to lend $32 billion to nearly 400 projects in 2013, according to bank data. Some projects are continental or regional (i.e. Africa). In those cases, the projects are not mapped.
The IFC invests in fewer projects and offers smaller amounts of funding. In 2013, it committed to invest $14 billion in private companies operating mostly in developing countries. Some projects are continental or regional (i.e. Africa). In those cases, the projects are not mapped.