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IFC and Bank Alfalah Launch SME Toolkit to Support SMEs in Pakistan


In Cairo:
Riham Mustafa
Phone: +20 2 2461 4230
E-mail:
RMustafa@ifc.org


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.  

About IFC
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

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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 asset financing.

Additional information may be found at www.bankalfalah.com

SME Toolkit
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.

In Lahore:
Saba Karim Khan
Phone: (+9221) 32423952, 021-111-777-786 (x) 2101
E-mail: saba.khan@bankalfalah.com