We help smaller businesses succeed, strengthening a critical force for prosperity.
Nabil al Jabari and his family have run a small grocery store in downtown Cairo for the past six decades. It has a group of devoted customers, but al Jabari wanted to bring in new business.
So he installed an electronic payment system developed by IFC client Fawry, which allows al Jabari’s customers to make purchases with credit cards and to pay cellphone bills.
That is crucial in a country where almost everyone relies on cash for transactions, a relatively inefficient way of doing business. The new system attracted dozens of new customers to his store, raising revenues by 15 percent, al Jabari says.
Small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, are a critical force for prosperity in developing countries, accounting for two-thirds of employment. IFC plays a prominent global role in expanding opportunities for these businesses—through our partnership with the Group of 20 leading economies and through our own investment and advisory initiatives.
That is why we invested $6 million in Fawry this year. Our financing will help the firm expand its network of 20,000 payment terminals—potentially stimulating the growth of many small businesses across Egypt.
We serve as a technical adviser to the G-20 on a variety of initiatives to expand access to finance for SMEs. For example, IFC supports the G-20’s Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion and manages the SME Finance Innovation Fund announced by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010. We also manage the Women’s Finance Hub, a G-20 initiative to share knowledge and best practices on ways to expand access to finance for women entrepreneurs.
We provide investment and advisory services to such enterprises in about 80 countries, focusing on every phase of their development: improving the investment climate, building management skills, and expanding access to finance and markets. In 2012, our clients provided 5.8 million loans to small and medium enterprises, totaling $241 billion.
In India, we advised the state of Bihar in implementing reforms to its tax regime to encourage formalization for small businesses. We also helped it strengthen an online filing and payment system. The changes increased tax revenues and allowed more small companies to enjoy the benefits of joining the formal economy.
In Sri Lanka, we worked with Nation Trust Bank to open the first business-training center in the country’s Eastern Province. Through our SME Toolkit, an online resource that provides training and management tools for small businesses, we are helping up to 30,000 small-business owners become more competitive and reach new markets.