The World Bank’s Weird Way of Helping the Poor—Investing in Luxury Hotels

In these International Finance Corporation-funded properties, a three-night stay costs more than locals earn in a year.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/carlitos/3392389602/in/photolist-6aLYMC-6a6hc9-6aGF5H-6aGJJr-6cRuGw-6bEv1m-5FS43a-6a25Ua-6ceUN9-6aLTeU-6amhAZ-6b3JbQ-5FS6nv-6aGHHr-5FWkjW-6a6cRG-6cMnL4-6caKS2-6b3Qbu-6bAmMr-6bAkVX-6aLZth-6a6bnm-6a6giQ-6aGEha-6a6bRN-6a6ezU-6aLQV5">¡Carlitos</a>/Flickr

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Over the years, the International Finance Corporation, the investment arm of the World Bank, has sunk more than $1 billion into luxury hotels in the developing world. These projects, like all of those undertaken by the IFC, are supposed to boost “shared prosperity.” But the returns for the poor living in those countries have been largely disappointing. A 2011 report from the World Bank’s internal watchdog found that while most projects brought “satisfactory economic returns,” they did not “provide evidence of identifiable opportunities for the poor.”

The real beneficiaries of the World Bank’s investment in the private sector are the moguls who have reaped the profits, who offer nightly stays at idyllic resorts marked by extravagance—a chance to relax and overlook the clear blue water off an island in Maldives, or to stroll through manicured gardens toward a tranquil spa in the heart of Kabul

Here’s a sampling, bankrolled in the name of raising people out of poverty.

Taj Exotica and Vivanta By Taj Coral Reef (Maldives)

Taj Exotica Beach Villa ¡Carlitos/Flickr

IFC investment: $17 million

Room rate: $650 to $7,000

GDP (per capita): $8,483

 

Hyatt Regency Kiev (Ukraine)

Hyatt Regency Kiev Bart?omiej Derski/Wikimedia

IFC investment: $27.5 million

Room rate: $429 to $703

GDP: $3,083

 

Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel (Ghana)

Mövenpick Amabassador Hotel Friedmut Abel/Wikimedia

IFC investment: $26 million

Room rate: $330 to $783

GDP: $1,443

Amansara Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Amansara Siem Reap Julien Smith/Wikimedia

IFC investment: $1.2 million

Room rate: $1,378 to $2,081

GDP: $1,090

Kabul Serena Hotel (Afghanistan)

Kabul Serena Hotel world66/Wikimedia

IFC investment: $7 million

Room rate: $356+

GDP: $659

Kigali Serena Hotel and Lake Kivu Serena Hotel (Rwanda)

Kigali Serena Hotel Meaghan O’Neill/Flickr

Lake Kivu Serena Hotel Justin Kaplan/Flickr

IFC investment: $8.1 million

Room rate: $180 to $360

GDP: $696

Coco Ocean Resort and Spa (Gambia)

Coco Ocean Resort And Spa Tjeerd Wiersma/Flickr

IFC investment: $10.2 million

Room rate: $203 to $301

GDP: $419

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas and Las Casitas del Colca Lodge (Peru)

IFC investment: $13 million

Room rate: $645 to $1,090

GDP: $6,551

 

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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