Lahore, April 7, 2014—IFC, a member
of the World Bank Group, and Bank Alfalah have launched the SME Toolkit
in Pakistan, an online solutions platform designed to help small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) grow their business and improve their performance.
This launch is part of IFC’s and Bank
Alfalah’s continued commitment to strengthen the SME sector in Pakistan,
through solutions that provide access to more than just financial services.
SME Toolkit offers tools and expert advice on how to start, run and grow
a business, as lack of access to relevant information and expertise is
one of the key constraints to the growth of SMEs in Pakistan.
“We have been working with IFC to introduce
non-financial advisory services to SMEs in Pakistan, which will add significant
value to them in managing their businesses,” said Atif Bajwa, President
and Chief Executive Officer, Bank Alfalah. “By providing SMEs with access
to vital managerial tools and global learning resources, we are optimistic
that the SME Toolkit will help empower the local entrepreneurial community
and enable economic progress.”
SMEs are crucial to growth in developing
economies like Pakistan, as they contribute a high proportion of jobs and,
in some countries, more than 30 percent of the gross domestic product.
Available for free at www.pakistan.smetoolkit.org,
SME Toolkit content covers a wide range of management areas such as accounting,
finance, human resources, legal issues, and marketing.
“IFC has been working with Bank Alfalah
to develop and implement a fully-fledged SME banking strategy to improve
the management skills of SMEs so they can grow and strengthen their business,”
said Kaiser Naseem, Head of IFC Bank Advisory Services in the Middle East
and North Africa. “SME Toolkit is an important component of this business
model, which will allow small businesses to better access banking services."
First launched in 2002, the SME Toolkit
is now available in more than 40 countries and 18 different languages.
Its various websites worldwide receive 5 million unique visitors every
year. According to a recent survey, 86 percent of repeat visitors to the
online SME Toolkit have made or plan to make changes to their business.
Of those who made changes, 96 percent reported improved business performance.
IFC has been working with Bank Alfalah
since 2007, providing investment and advisory services.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the
private sector. Working with private enterprises in more than 100 countries,
we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme
poverty and promote shared prosperity. In FY13, our investments climbed
to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion, leveraging the power of the
private sector to create jobs and tackle the world’s most pressing development
challenges. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
About Bank Alfalah
Bank Alfalah operates through a network
of 574 branches across 196 cities in order to provide consumers, corporations,
institutions and governments with a broad spectrum of financial products
and services, including corporate and investment banking, consumer banking
and credit, securities brokerage, commercial, agricultural, Islamic and
Additional information may be found at
SME Toolkit (www.smetoolkit.org),
an innovation of IFC, developed in partnership with IBM, leverages the
latest information and communication technologies to help entrepreneurs
and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets learn and implement
sustainable business management practices and increase their productivity,
capacity, and access to finance and new markets. Through a network of global
partners and local distribution partners, SME Toolkit provides business
men and women with online and mobile phone access to key business management
information, interactive tools, and educational resources free of charge.