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IFC, BLC Bank Launch Management Toolkit to Support Lebanese Entrepreneurs


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

Beirut, Lebanon, June 10, 2013—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and BLC Bank today launched SME Toolkit in Lebanon, an online solutions platform designed to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grow their business and improve performance.

SME Toolkit offers information and expert advice on how to start, run and grow a business. Available for free at www.lebanon.smetoolkit.org, SME Toolkit is designed to help managers and entrepreneurs implement sound management practices to improve their business. The platform covers a wide range of management areas such as accounting, finance, human resources, legal issues, and marketing.

“Our vision is to support SMEs in Lebanon, by providing the tools to improve their business, build their capacity and nurture their growth. We provide comprehensive business solutions that include non-financial services such as advisory services and training. As of today, we are proud to be the local distributor of the SME Toolkit,” said Maurice Sehnaoui, Chairman and General Manager of BLC Bank.

SMEs are crucial to growth in developing economies, as they contribute a high proportion of jobs and, in some countries, more than 30 percent of the gross domestic product. Micro, small and medium enterprises in the Middle East and North Africa comprise up to 90 percent of total businesses and are estimated to number between 19 and 23 million, generating up to 40 percent of all employment in the region. The region has the highest unemployment rates in the world and 75 million jobs need to be created by 2020 just to maintain current levels.

“Lack of access to information is one of the key challenges that face smaller businesses in the region, which hinders their growth and profitability. Bridging the information gap will help strengthen SMEs capacity and increase their competitiveness,” said Elvira Van Daele, IFC Program Manager.

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 annually. 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 worked with BLC Bank since 2008, providing banking products for SMEs and collaborating on a series of services tailored to small businesses run by women.  

About IFC
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, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. In FY12, our investments reached an all-time high of more than $20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About BLC Bank
BLC Bank is focused on its vision of becoming a Bank of reference and is actively involved in financing productive economic sectors which have a lasting effect on national growth and sustainable development. To this effect, the Bank received local and international awards for its commitment to developing SMEs, fostering women’s economic empowerment and contributing in promoting CSR initiatives.  With this in the background, BLC Bank earned the exclusive partnership for the Lebanese version of IFC’s innovative SME Toolkit website,

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, the 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.

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