OeEB celebrated its 15th anniversary last year and has implemented 500 projects since it was founded. Mandated by the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF), OeEB as a thematically focused development bank pursues the overarching goal of permanently improving the living conditions of people in disadvantaged regions by strengthening the private sector. The new strategy cycle 2024-2028 will focus on four key topics: Green Finance, MSME/Financial Inclusion, Infrastructure and Industry as well as Gender Equality. Climate finance and the bank's commitment in Sub-Saharan Africa are becoming even more important than in the previous strategy period.

The new strategy "Financing our shared future" is fundamentally based on the elements of the previous strategy and has been expanded particularly in the area of Green Finance. Gender is also included as a key topic, which was previously strategically anchored as a cross-sectional goal. Geographically, OeEB pursues a broad approach to react flexibly to changes in the target countries and subsequent shortages in the private sector's access to financing. At least 25% of new business is set to be conducted in Africa until 2028, whereas special emphasis will be put on Sub-Saharan-Africa and least developed countries. Projects in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) shall represent at least 20% of new business.

"By financing and supporting developmentally and economically sensible private projects we are pursuing the goal to improve the living conditions of people in these regions and to support the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The private sector is an important driver for developing and securing quality jobs as well as sustainable infrastructure. In our activities we also take into account the promotion of gender equality to strengthen the position of women regarding their participation in the economy," explain both OeEB board members Sabine Gaber and Michael Wancata.

Mitigation of climate change

According to the EU Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), 2023 was the warmest year on record globally and developing countries are disproportionally affected by climate change. Sabine Gaber: "We are therefore pursuing our efforts in the fight against climate change with particular vigour and have set ourselves an ambitious strategic goal: By 2028, at least 50% of our new business should be conducted in the area of climate-creditable investments. Moreover, the key topic Green Finance includes topics with increasing importance, such as climate change adaptation and protection of water and marine sources."

Mobilisation of the private sector

Particularly against the backdrop of multiple past and current crises, the financing of development goals will only be successful through cooperation and mobilisation of funds from the private sector. "We will therefore continue to work on new instruments, innovations and cooperations in order to leverage private funds with limited public funds. From 2015 to 2021 we achieved to leverage a total of around EUR 350 million of private capital through our activities according to OECD criteria," explains Michael Wancata. For example, the first private equity impact fund in Austria for developing countries was launched with Bank Gutmann, mobilising a volume of around EUR 72 million. A follow-up fund with a focus on climate financing is to be set up in the current strategy period. Via the African-Austrian SME Investment Facility (AAIF), which is implemented on behalf of and with funds from the BMF, the focus on Africa is additionally promoted by mobilising the commitment of Austrian companies operating in Africa.

International cooperations and reconstruction of Ukraine

With the successful completion of the EU-9-Pillar certification in January 2023, OeEB is qualified to apply for EU funds within the framework of the European Fund for Sustainable Development+ (EFSD+). These include EU guarantees to reduce risk or non-repayable support for technical assistance, which OeEB wants to make greater use of in the future. 

In addition, OeEB strives for increased cooperation with global and regional multilateral development banks and institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) or the European Investment Bank (EIB). Joint efforts by multilateral and national development finance institutions will also be required for reconstruction activities in Ukraine.