Saturday, August 04, 2007

SME Toolkit: International Business Section

The SME Toolkit is a project of the International Finance Corporation. Since its inception in 2002, the SME Toolkit program has deployed more than 25 regional and sector-specific Web sites in collaboration with strategic partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. SME Toolkit content has been translated into 12 languages. The program has seen dramatic growth in recent months and SME Toolkit sites now collectively receive more than 2.4 million visits per year from users around the world. The Toolkit aims to address the three main impediments that SMEs face in utilizing technology for their business: access, lack of awareness/skills, and lack of locally applicable business applications/information.

IBM has dedicated more than $1.6 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 to create a community where small and medium sized business can collaborate - anywhere around the world. For example, a group of small businesses could gather in an online forum to devise a strategy to bid on a large supply contract rather than as separate bids. The community tools also create an opportunity for peer learning.

The SME Toolkit is a free program. It's an amazing resource.

I was honored to be a part of this project by partnering with the Women Presidents' Organization (where I serve as a facilitator for WPO in the Chicago market) and providing global small business content. Check out the International Business Overview here. You can also jump to it on the home page under Go Global: Begin Exporting Now.

Press Release Headline: IBM and International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, launch a small business toolkit to create jobs and fuel growth in the underserved and emerging markets.

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