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
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
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.
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.