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
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,
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/.