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BNB and IFC Provide Free Online Business-Management Tools to Empower Caribbean SMEs


IFC
Lima, Peru

Clara Ugarte Perrin

Phone: +511-611-2501

E-mail:
Cugarteperrin@ifc.org

Barbados National Bank Inc.

Bridgetown, Barbados

Sharon Howell

Phone: +1-246-431-1262 ext. 4022
E-mail:
showell@bnbbarbados.com


Bridgetown, Barbados, October 19, 2011—Barbados National Bank Inc. and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today launched the Caribbean SME Toolkit as part of their regional strategy to support micro, small, and medium enterprises and help improve their performance, given their importance to economic growth in the country.

The SME Caribbean Toolkit has been launched in Grenada, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. Today's launch in Barbados responds to the efforts of BNB’s parent company—Republic Bank—to improve SME competitiveness across the region. It provides small-business owners with free, online, and round-the-clock access to expert information, including business forms,  how-to-articles, free software, and advice about accessing markets. It also features online forums and conferences to increase direct interaction and sharing of best practices among SMEs.


Globally, the SME Toolkit platform is currently available in 18 languages, in more than 30 countries, and receives over 3.5 million visitors per year. It seeks to help SMEs improve their performance and competitiveness, and expand their access to new markets.


Addressing business leaders at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, BNB Managing Director and CEO Derwin Howell said: “Our interaction with our customers in the SME segment convinced us that the greatest deterrent to their sustained success is information. With information at your fingertips, we know that you can make the leap successfully to maximize your business potential and be better able to weather the storms ahead.”


Juan Gonzalo Flores, IFC Program Manager, Advisory Services, for Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “Introducing the SME Toolkit in the Caribbean shows IFC’s commitment to equipping regional SME owners and managers with the necessary business skills for portfolio expansion and improved profitability. Strengthening capacity within these entities will result in greater development impact within local economies, including the creation of job opportunities in challenging market conditions. The SME Toolkit initiative is a key part of our efforts to support the sustainability of the Caribbean private sector.”


In 2006, IFC, the largest global development institution focused on the private sector, partnered with IBM to strengthen and expand the toolkit’s capabilities. To date, IBM has invested more than $3 million to co-develop the product on an open-source platform.


BNB’s parent company, Republic Bank, has customized the SME Toolkit website and content to meet needs specific to Caribbean businesses. It can be accessed in:
www.bnbsmetoolkit.com

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.

About BNB

Barbados National Bank Inc. is a subsidiary of Republic Bank Ltd. It offers a wide range of commercial and corporate banking  services. Its Corporate and Commercial Credit Unit handles all of the needs of business customers. These are designed for flexibility, convenience, and creative financing of customers business plan. They include commercial mortgages, corporate current accounts, merchant services, micro loan plan, payroll services, cash management, financing, exchange accounts, treasury management, letters of credit, swift money transfers, investing, and investment banking. For more information, visit
http://www.bnbbarbados.com/.