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Egypt:IFC, IBM, Bank of Alexandria Partner to Strengthen Egypt’s Small and Medium Enterprises
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Egypt’s Bank of Alexandria today signed an agreement to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Egypt acquire the skills they need to become more competitive and profitable.

Under the agreement, Bank of Alexandria will launch and promote a localized, freely-available version of IFC’s SME Toolkit web platform in Egypt in both English and Arabic. The SME Toolkit offers on-line business management information, forms, interactive tools and educational resources that help users implement sustainable business management practices, improve their managerial skills, access finance, and enter new markets.

Lars Thunell, IFC CEO and Executive Vice President, said at the signing ceremony, ?Small- and medium-sized businesses are essential to economic growth and employment in Egypt. IFC’s partnership with the Bank of Alexandria will support these businesses, helping them grow and create jobs for Egypt’s young work force.?

Mahmoud Abdel Latif, Chairman Bank of Alexandria, said, "This agreement with IFC will also help us reach our goal of increasing financing opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses and supports our corporate social responsibilities activities in order to help them grow and develop the Egyptian economy."

In 2007, Bank of Alexandria began a program to increase its support for SMEs. Since then, it has committed 1.4 billion Egyptian pounds (about $254

million) to 1,663 borrowers, and increased bank deposits held by SMEs to

20,254 accounts totaling 2.3 billion Egyptian pounds (about $417 million).

In February 2009, IFC invested $200 million in Bank of Alexandria, representing a 9.75 percent stake. The equity investment, IFC’s largest in Egypt and its second-largest globally, will help the bank focus on expanding financing activities for micro, small and medium enterprises and homebuyers.

Globally, the SME Toolkit has been launched in 17 languages, in more than 30 markets, and receives over 4.5 million unique visitors per year, including over 80 percent from emerging markets.

"Through more than 55 years of operations in the Egyptian Market, IBM is proud to be an involved and contributing part of the Egyptian economy," said Amr Ghoneim, General Manager, IBM Egypt. "We are pleased to be collaborating with partners like Bank of Alexandria in this agreement that reinforces IBM’s commitment to serve small and mid-sized enterprises around the world."

In 2006, IFC partnered with IBM to strengthen and expand the Toolkit’s capabilities. To date, IBM has invested extensive resources to build the technology platform, develop a suite of collaborative features and innovative solutions to help build the capacity of small businesses worldwide.

Source: IFC - The World Bank


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