SME Toolkit Creates Opportunities for Small Businesses
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This week, IFC and key stakeholders are meeting in Mumbai, India, to discuss the latest version of the IFC SME Toolkit (www.smetoolkit.org), an online program that provides support to small and medium business entrepreneurs worldwide.
Sponsored jointly by IFC and ICICI Bank, the event is a forum for sharing experiences and lessons learned from around the world. IFC and partners will also focus on localizing and marketing the new SME Toolkit in India, building on recent success in South Africa.
What is the IFC SME Toolkit?
The Toolkit is a free online resource launched in 2002 to help entrepreneurs and small businesses access business information, tools, and training services so that they can implement the sustainable business management practices they need. It covers such areas as finance, accounting, international business, marketing, human resources, and legal. It is now available in 29 markets and 15 languages, reaching an average of 2.5 million visitors each year.
In most countries and regions where IFC works, small businesses generate the largest share of economic activity and employment. In these economies, small and medium enterprises account for more than 90 percent of all businesses. Typically, well over half the working population, especially poorer people, rely on them for employment and income.
For millions of people in these countries, starting or expanding a small business is the most promising and sustainable route out of poverty. But often the business environment is difficult, with costly regulatory hurdles, coupled with gender discrimination and limited access to affordable financing.
The Toolkit responds to the needs of small businesses in emerging markets, helping them enter the formal economy, improve operations, and grow their businesses using cutting edge information and communication technologies.
The latest version of the Toolkit resulted from IFC?s partnership with the global technology company IBM, in a multimillion-dollar initiative to upgrade it and deliver state-of-the-art business information, tools, and training services.
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