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IFC and Zain Provide Innovative Training and Support for Madagascar Entrepreneurs

Antananarivo, Madagascar, April 22, 2010 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with Zain, today increased its support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Madagascar by operationally launching a free online training program that will help businessmen and women in the country develop new skills.
Madagascar entrepreneurs can now benefit,free of any charge from IFC’s SME Toolkit, an online, interactive program that uses the latest communication technologies to help smaller businesses learn sustainable management practices. The SME Toolkit was developed in partnership with IBM.
The Madagascar SME Solutions Center, the first of its kind in Madagascar, offers since 2005 a complete package of business incubation facilities including the SME Toolkit, access to business information and helps smaller businesses access finance.
Aida Der Hovanessian, IFC Country Manager in Madagascar said, “We are pleased, together with Zain, to bring the SME Toolkit to the Madagascar market to support the growth of smaller businesses in the country. Supporting smaller businesses is a major focus of IFC’s work in Africa and a stronger small business sector in Madagascar will help create employment and generate growth in the country.”
In partnership with Zain, who will provide local content, these new products and services will reach a greater number of people as they will be also accessible via mobile phone and CD-ROM.  This initiative will. support the growth of smaller businesses in Madagascar with training and tools to bridge entrepreneurship development skills gaps.
The expansion of the SME Toolkit will be supported by the partnership between Zain and a network of local training firms and institutions including CITE, ISCAM, INSCAE, UNICECAM, lCCI Fianarantsoa/BCI, ’ISTT Ampasapito, and  CGA Analamanga,as well as with local financial institutions and the local SMEs. At longer term this partnership will enhance the business environment that Zain would like to develop and increase access to finance and business skills to the Malagasy SMEs.  
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing capital for private enterprise, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $14.5 billion in fiscal 2009, helping channel capital into developing countries during the financial crisis. For more information, visit .
About SME Toolkit sm
The SME Toolkit was launched in 2002 by IFC.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Toolkit network covers Benin, Kenya, Rwanda, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia. The sites enable users to search and browse content, list their businesses, and create Web pages in a searchable business directory. Users are also able to network by participating in multilingual community forums on key business management topics. The SME Toolkit content can also be distributed on CD-ROM and mobile phones. In 2006, IFC partnered with IBM to strengthen and expand the Toolkit’s capabilities.
Globally, to-date the SME Toolkit is available through 31 Web sites and in over 17 languages throughout the developing world. In many of these markets there are no other comparable on-line support resources for small businesses in the local language.  The Toolkit receives over 4.5 million unique visitors per year. For more information, visit .
For more information about IBM, visit .