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IFC and Partners Help Strengthen Small and Medium Enterprises in Emerging Markets

Cape Town, South Africa, November 18, 2009 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today said it is working closely with global partners to expand the service of the SME Toolkit for small and medium enterprises. The Toolkit is available online and through mobile phones and offers management and training tools to entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
IFC, in collaboration with IBM and Business Partners Ltd., is hosting the Second SME Toolkit Global Partners conference in Cape Town from November 16-20, 2009. The conference, which also highlights collaboration with the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, brings together partners to share experiences, learn about SME Toolkit software updates and discuss benefits of using the tool.
Toshiya Masuoka, IFC Director of Corporate Advice, said, “Supporting small and medium businesses is a major focus of IFC’s work. The success of growing small businesses is crucial to helping create employment and reduce poverty in developing countries.”
IFC’s SME Toolkit was launched in 2002. IBM has supported the product since 2006.
Robin Willner, IBM Vice President of Global Community Initiatives, said, “IFC and IBM continue to work together to strengthen and expand the SME Toolkit’s capabilities. IBM has invested extensive resources to develop an innovative and open-source platform so that entrepreneurs around the world have the information and supports they need to grow the local economy."  
The Toolkit is available in 17 languages in 32 countries and allows SMEs to list their businesses, create web pages, and participate in multilingual community forums. In many places it is the largest online business support resource in the local language.
Pierre Mey, Executive General Manager at Business Partners Ltd., IFC’s SME Toolkit local partner in South Africa, said, “The Toolkit is our flagship enterprise development initiative. Agreeing to take ownership of the Toolkit in South Africa falls exactly in line with our vision of giving the entrepreneur more value than just finance, and providing them with the information they need to manage their businesses successfully."
IFC is the only international financial institution focused exclusively on the private sector, the engine of sustainable development in emerging markets. It is currently seeking a capital increase to strengthen its ability to create opportunity for the poor in developing countries—including supporting the growth and sustainability of small and medium enterprises in emerging markets.
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 private capital, 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 IBM
In 2006, IFC partnered with IBM to strengthen and expand the Toolkit’s capabilities. To date, IBM has invested more than US$3 million to co-develop the product on an open-source platform, offering innovative and collaborative features. For more information about IBM, visit .
For more information about Business Partners visit .