Republic Bank launches online toolkit for small businesses

Republic Bank Guyana Limited yesterday launched the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Toolkit Caribbean at its headquarters in New Market Street and was challenged by the Tourism Minister to develop a report that reflected whether the toolkit contributed to the growth of small and medium entrepreneurs in the country.

The SME Toolkit is an online platform designed to help Guyanese small and medium enterprises develop their businesses. The online site offers entrepreneurs free business management information and training for SMEs on accounting and finance, business planning, human resources, marketing and sales, operations, and information technology all of which are aimed at improving the business performance.

SME toolkit Caribbean is a free service which provides businesses with round-the-clock access to how to articles, software and advice about accessing markets among other things and can be accessed on www.smetoolkitcaribbean.republicguyana.com .

In his opening remarks, Managing Director of Republic Bank Edwin Gooding said the bank is committed to providing SMEs with information to maximise their business potential, adding that the information available online will be extremely useful for businesses in their growth.

However, Gooding told some of the small and medium business owners present at yesterday’s opening that in order for them to gain maximum benefit from the project they needed to embrace change while pointing out that “many among us are still a little intimidated by the internet”.

He further added that the change will have to be embraced at “the most fundamental level”.

He said the site will be updated regularly and is easy for customers to navigate. Gooding also said that the support to the SMEs also extended to formal training on the use of the site stating “we see it as our mandate to elevate you as you have elevated us”.

Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Manniram Prashad commended the bank’s initiative and stated that he had no doubt SMEs are important to the growth of the country’s economy.

He stated government’s commitment to the growth of the SMEs saying that the government has provided an enabling environment for growth and development through the Small Business Act of 2004 as well as the National Competitive Strategy.

In his closing remarks he challenged the bank to produce a report that reflected the growth of the toolkit.

SME ToolKit is a project of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which is a member of World Bank Group, in partnership with IBM. Globally it has been launched in countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Operations Officer to Latin America and the Caribbean of the SME Toolkit Elvira Van Daele in her address expressed her honour to be a part of yesterday’s launch and pointed out the IFC’s focus for creating opportunity for people to escape poverty from their lives.

She said IFC is the only institution that focuses exclusively on the private sector.

Van Daele pointed out further how over 25,000 SMEs have benefited from a similar toolkit launched in Trinidad last year, noting that the kit is customised to meet the market’s specific business reality and need. “The SME Toolkit is key to supporting private sector sustainability in Guyana. This support will help create new job opportunities in a difficult market context,” Van Daele said.

Attending the launch ceremony, Judy Semple Joseph of EMPRETC said the SME Toolkit appeared to be very good based on the presentation, adding, “we all are working towards the same end” which is to develop SMEs.

However, she pointed out that the challenge now lies with the business owners since they have to recognise the importance of technology.

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