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IFC and H&C Business Technologies Launch SME Toolkit in Senegal to Help Smaller Enterprises Access Free Business Information and Training


In Johannesburg:
Daniel Musiitwa

Phone: +2711 731 3175

E-mail:
dmusiitwa@ifc.org

In Washington, D.C.:

Thoko Moyo

Phone: +1202 458 8517

E-mail:
tmoyo@ifc.org

In Cotonou:

Mademba Ndiaye
The World Bank

Phone: +221 849 50 00

E-mail:
mndiaye@worldbank.org


Dakar, Senegal, July 24, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is partnering with H&C Business Technologies, a leading business service provider in West Africa, to launch a Web site that provides better access to free information and training for small businesses in Senegal.

The Senegal SME Toolkit (
www.boiteoutilspme.com) offers interactive tools that support small business owners and managers in a range of core business areas. These include accounting and finance, business planning, human resources, legal and insurance, marketing and sales, operations, and information technology. Small businesses will be able to access learning resources, get help on implementing sustainable business practices, and register for workshops with professional trainers. They can also partner with local support providers by accessing detailed market, investment, and trade information on more than 60 countries with the strongest export potential.  

Hermann Cakpo, Chief Executive Officer of H&C Business Technologies, said, “The Senegal SME Toolkit is the most comprehensive free online resource for doing business in the country. It is a one-stop source of information for local businesses, helping save time and money. We are delighted to partner with IFC and create more opportunities for growth and expansion of our small business clients.”

Aida der Hovanessian, IFC Country Manager, said, “Micro, small, and medium enterprises are important channels for addressing job creation and economic growth, but they need the proper business tools and information to compete. Initiatives like the SME Toolkit can help bridge the information gap, while promoting information technology literacy.”


Lizabeth Bronder, IFC Chief Program Manager, added, “A user survey shows that the toolkit helps smaller businesses overcome many challenges that prevent growth. The majority said that the toolkit helped them improve their businesses and found the content useful for supplementing their own materials and know-how. We are confident that users in Senegal will also benefit.”

Internet usage in Senegal is high and continues to grow rapidly. Between 2000 and 2007, the number of users grew by over 200 percent. As Internet penetration increases, so will access to the SME Toolkit by entrepreneurs. The toolkit can also be run on CD-ROMs to cater for those without reliable Internet connectivity.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.

About H&C Business Technologies

Founded in 2003, H&C Business Technologies is a West Africa-based business services provider. The company promotes better management practices in the region by developing and providing business tools and solutions to start-up and growing small and medium enterprises. Its products and services range from software, training, and surveys, to Web development and promotion services. The company serves about 1,500 small businesses and has offices in Senegal and Benin. For more information, visit
http://impulsiondespme.com/produit.php.  

Fact Sheet

The SME Toolkit was launched in 2002 by IFC.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, the toolkit network covers Benin, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia. Plans are underway for additional country sites, including Ghana, which aims to launch before the end of the year. The site will enable users to search and browse more than 40,000 pieces of content, list their businesses, and create Web pages in a searchable business directory. Users will also be able to assist each other by participating in multilingual community forums on key business management topics.


In 2006, IFC partnered with IBM to strengthen and expand the toolkit’s capabilities. IBM has dedicated more than $3 million to transform and rebuild the product on an innovative and open-source platform.


The SME Toolkit is available in more than 30 countries and in 15 languages throughout the developing world. In many of these markets there are no other comparable online support resources for small businesses in the local language. The toolkit receives nearly 3.5 million visits a year, 85 percent of which come from developing countries. For more information, visit
www.smetoolkit.org.

Ulrich Affo
H&C Business Technologies
Phone: +229 97 72 12 27
E-mail: Ulrich@gererlenterprise.com