LAHORE -PR - Bank Alfalah and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, have launched the SME Toolkit in Pakistan, an online solutions platform, which provides value-added resources, including business advice, local and global best practices and opportunities, to both existing and potential SMEs to grow and improve their businesses. This launch is part of Bank Alfalah and IFC’s continued commitment to strengthen the SME sector in Pakistan, through holistic solutions that provide access to more than just financial services. The SME Toolkit, available for free at www.pakistan.smetoolkit.org, offers tools and expert advice on how to start, run and grow a business, as lack of access to relevant information and expertise is one of the key constraints to the growth of SMEs in Pakistan. The platform covers a wide range of management areas including accounting, finance, human resources, legal issues, and marketing.Atif Bajwa, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bank Alfalah said, “We have been working in conjunction with IFC to introduce Non-Financial Advisory Services to SMEs in Pakistan, which will add significant value to them in managing their businesses. By providing SMEs with access to vital managerial tools and global learning resources, we are optimistic that the SME Toolkit will help empower the local entrepreneurial community and hence enable economic progress.” SMEs play a crucial role in the growth of developing economies such as Pakistan, by contributing to employment, and, in some countries, more than 30 percent of the gross domestic product. “IFC has been working with Bank Alfalah to develop and implement a fully-fledged SME banking strategy to improve the management skills of SMEs so they can grow and strengthen their business, ”said Kaiser Naseem, Head of IFC’s MENA Bank Advisory Services. “SME toolkit is an important component of this business model, which will allow small businesses to better access banking services.” First launched in 2002, the SME Toolkit is now available in more than 40 countries and 18 different languages. Its various websites worldwide receive 5 million unique visitors every year. According to a recent survey, 86 percent of repeat visitors to the online SME Toolkit have made or plan to make changes to their business. Of those who made changes, 96 percent reported improved business performance.IFC has been working with Bank Alfalah since 2007, providing investment and advisory services.