The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, and IBM provide a free small business toolkit specifically to allow small business owners in emerging markets as well as women, Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian entrepreneurs in the U.S., to receive highly developed business information, tools, and training services usually reserved for Fortune 1000 companies. The Toolkit can also help small businesses go global by providing detailed market access, investment and trade information for the 64 most exported to countries.
Local partners in each of the countries hosting the Toolkit make sure the more than 500 pieces of content, tools and resources are customized, localized and available in the language of their respective markets. These partnerships provide small businesses with local support, thus nurturing their businesses to improve their chance of survival and to generate more jobs.
The Toolkit was launched by IFC in 2002. IBM has dedicated more than $2 million to transform the Toolkit and rebuild it on an innovative open source platform using top talent in IBM research. The Toolkit now includes new Web 2.0 features such as live chat, online forums, business directories and survey capabilities.
In the future the Toolkit will add new partners, markets and languages and now allows users to connect to it using wireless devices, such as cell phones. In developing markets, mobile devices are increasingly the way users connect to the Internet, and sometimes the only way.
The global SME Toolkit site and the sites in the countries in which the Toolkit is available may be accessed through the links below.
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka