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IFC, Dialog Axiata Expand Partnership to Train 3,000 More Micro, Small Entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka, December 14, 2011 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Dialog Axiata are expanding their collaboration to increase the reach of the SME Toolkit, an online resource that provides training and management tools to help micro and small enterprises strengthen productivity and gain greater access to new markets.
Under the expansion, more than 3,000 small-business owners from rural and post conflict regions of Sri Lanka will receive training through the toolkit by the end of 2012. Part of this new phase will focus extensively on training women entrepreneurs to improve business skills and business practices.
“The use of innovative models such as the SME Toolkit, to support local entrepreneurs and help businesses become sustainable is a major focus of IFC's work in Sri Lanka,” said Adam Sack, IFC’s Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives said. “Working with Dialog, we can develop the micro, small and medium enterprise sector across the country with the SME Toolkit.”
IFC’s SME Toolkit has been adapted to suit local needs and training is administered in English, Sinhala and Tamil in all provinces of the country. Since 2008, when Dialog Axiata partnered with IFC to bring the toolkit to Sri Lanka, the program has reached over 5,000 micro and small entrepreneurs across the island. Dialog Axiata operates Sri Lanka’s largest mobile-telephone network.
“We are proud to partner with IFC to empower Sri Lankan micro entrepreneurs with skills and tool sets to aid the development and sustenance of their businesses,” said Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata. “The tri-lingual SME Toolkit and supplementary developmental interactions have been designed to inculcate enhanced levels of entrepreneurial stewardship across small-business segments from across all districts of Sri Lanka and will no doubt provide commensurate impetus to the acceleration of economic growth,” he added.
IFC’s SME Toolkit was launched globally in 2002. The toolkit is the country’s only trilingual web portal dedicated towards the development of micro and small enterprises. It is a repository of tools and knowledge resources that provide guidance to micro and small entrepreneurs to improve their skills and know-how in areas such as marketing, book-keeping, accounting, business plan preparation, and human resource management.
Sri Lanka is a focus country for IFC’s program in South Asia.  IFC’s committed portfolio of $200 million in the country covers projects across a range of sectors—including infrastructure, tourism, renewable energy, banking, and health care. IFC also provides advisory support to small and medium enterprises, promoting sustainable growth among small and medium enterprises by facilitating access to finance and offering capacity-building and training opportunities.
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, providing advisory services to businesses and governments, and mobilizing capital in the international financial markets. In fiscal 2011, amid economic uncertainty across the globe, we helped our clients create jobs, strengthen environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities—all while driving our investments to an all-time high of nearly $19 billion. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .
About Dialog Axiata PLC
Dialog Axiata PLC, an ISO 9001 certified company, is a subsidiary of Axiata Group Berhad. The company operates 2.5G and 3/3.5G Mobile Communications networks supporting the very latest in multimedia and mobile Internet services. Dialog has the distinction of being the first 3G operator in South Asia to commence commercial operations. Its local coverage spans all provinces of Sri Lanka, while international roaming is provided in over 200 destinations. Dialog Axiata, the largest and fastest growing cellular service in Sri Lanka also operates Dialog Television a direct-to-home satellite TV service and Dialog Broadband Network—providing backbone and transmission infrastructure facilities and data communication services, serving a subscriber base in excess of 7 million Sri Lankans.
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