COLOMBIA — Ara Tiendas, a Colombian based proximity food discounter has secured a US$93 million (about COP330 billion) from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to help it increase the foot print of its discount grocery stores in the country.

Ara Tiendas expansion drive efforts come at a time when its major customers who are mainly low and middle-income earners are demanding increased access to affordable and quality food.

The loan from IFC will thus enable Arla Tiendas adequately cater for the growing number of customers without compromising on quality while at the same time boosting its local supply chains and creating Jobs to many of Colombia’s unemployed youth.

Ara also aims to increase the share of local products it offers and will invest in training programs to help local suppliers reach its high-quality standards.

“Companies like Ara Tiendas contribute to the development of dynamic and strong supply chains, including in frontier regions, and play a significant role in creating new jobs,” said Gabriel Goldschmidt, IFC Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

IFC’s financing will also support the company in opening new stores and warehouses on the Caribbean Coast, in the coffee growing region, and in Bogota and Western parts of the country, respectively.

IFC noted in a statement that the financing advanced to Ara will have a ripple effect of boosting local private sector activity because the company sources most of its own brand products from local suppliers, most of which are Small and Mediums Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

“Ara’s efforts to develop alliances with local SMEs will have a positive impact on the development of the rural sector in many regions of the country,” Goldschmidt said.

IFC also noted that the financing advanced to Ara is a testimony of its commitment towards supporting Colombia’s economic development, having invested and mobilized more than US$9 billion in the country since 1956.

IFC’s strategy for Colombia aims to provide support to key private sector actors who support the development of the country by creating new jobs and promoting SMEs, the statement noted

Ara Tiendas, also known as Ara, is part of the Portuguese food retail group Jerónimo Martins SGPS, S.A., and currently operates 578 stores throughout Colombia.