Cape Town, South Africa, November 18,
2009—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today said it is working
closely with global partners to expand the service of the SME Toolkit for
small and medium enterprises. The Toolkit is available online and through
mobile phones and offers management and training tools to entrepreneurs
in emerging markets.
IFC, in collaboration with IBM and Business
Partners Ltd., is hosting the Second SME Toolkit Global Partners conference
in Cape Town from November 16-20, 2009. The conference, which also highlights
collaboration with the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week,
brings together partners to share experiences, learn about SME Toolkit
software updates and discuss benefits of using the tool.
Toshiya Masuoka, IFC Director of Corporate
Advice, said, “Supporting small and medium businesses is a major focus
of IFC’s work. The success of growing small businesses is crucial to helping
create employment and reduce poverty in developing countries.”
IFC’s SME Toolkit was launched in 2002.
IBM has supported the product since 2006.
Robin Willner, IBM Vice President of
Global Community Initiatives, said, “IFC and IBM continue to work together
to strengthen and expand the SME Toolkit’s capabilities. IBM has invested
extensive resources to develop an innovative and open-source platform so
that entrepreneurs around the world have the information and supports they
need to grow the local economy."
The Toolkit is available in 17 languages
in 32 countries and allows SMEs to list their businesses, create web pages,
and participate in multilingual community forums. In many places it is
the largest online business support resource in the local language.
Pierre Mey, Executive General Manager
at Business Partners Ltd., IFC’s SME Toolkit local partner in South Africa,
said, “The Toolkit is our flagship enterprise development initiative.
Agreeing to take ownership of the Toolkit in South Africa falls exactly
in line with our vision of giving the entrepreneur more value than just
finance, and providing them with the information they need to manage their
IFC is the only international financial
institution focused exclusively on the private sector, the engine of sustainable
development in emerging markets. It is currently seeking a capital increase
to strengthen its ability to create opportunity for the poor in developing
countries—including supporting the growth and sustainability of small
and medium enterprises in emerging markets.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives.
We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting
private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory
and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments
totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing
countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
In 2006, IFC partnered with IBM to strengthen
and expand the Toolkit’s capabilities. To date, IBM has invested more
than US$3 million to co-develop the product on an open-source platform,
offering innovative and collaborative features. For more information about
IBM, visit www.ibm.com.