Where Does the World Bank Get Its Money?

The World Bank’s money comes from a number of different sources. IBRD, which provides loans to middle-income countries and to poorer countries able to repay loans at terms based on market rates, raises most of its funds on the world’s financial markets by selling World Bank bonds to investors. IBRD is an AAA-rated financial institution with unusual characteristics: its shareholders are sovereign governments; its member borrowers have a voice in setting the Bank’s policies; and, unlike commercial banks, its goal is improved development impact rather than profit maximization.

By contrast, IDA, which provides interest-free loans to the poorest countries, is funded largely by contributions from donor member governments, who meet every three years to replenish its funds. Additional funds come from IBRD net income, and repayments of IDA credits go into issuing new credits.

Strong shareholder support for IBRD and IDA is reflected in the capital backing they receive from members and in the excellent repayment record of IBRD and IDA borrowers. IBRD has $178 billion in callable capital that can be drawn from shareholders as backing should it ever be needed to meet IBRD's obligations for borrowings (bonds) or guarantees, but it has never had to call on this resource.

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