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The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group. Through the IFC, the World Bank provides financing to private corporations, for a variety of investments in lesser developed countries, such as pulp and paper mills, oil and gas pipelines, metal mines and chemical and industrial facilities. The IFC is an important global financier and influences other international financial entities. In 2005, the IFC's committed portfolio reached US$19.3 billion and it helped to syndicate a further US$5.3 billion in financing.
Over the past two decades, civil society organizations (CSOs) have drawn attention to the ecologically and socially harmful impacts of IFC-supported projects. In response to growing cricism in the late 1990s, the IFC developed a set of environmental, social and cultural safeguards and policies to minimize the impacts of their projects.