New Program to support innovative SME’s

2010 January 25
by Ismail Dhorat

Innovative, technology-driven Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, Asia, and Europe & Central Asia will soon benefit from a new partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Nokia, and infoDev – the global development financing program housed within the World Bank’s Global Information and Communication Technology (GICT) Department.

The €11.9 million program, known as Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy, will focus on enhancing the competitiveness of emerging market SMEs in the information and communication technologies (ICT) and agribusiness sectors in particular. The program will also employ the use of the mobile communications platform to grow content, services and applications for developing countries.

The three partner organizations created the program to foster the adoption of ICT technologies and innovative, technology-driven business models in developing countries. This approach is known to have a transformative, long-lasting effect on economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development efforts.

The program will combine an interrelated series of global, regional, and country level activities.

Highlights include:

  • Creating three regional mobile applications laboratories that will incubate up to 10 new mobile applications each.
  • Establishing social networking hubs in selected countries in Africa, Asia, and the ECA region to create opportunities for exchanges between mobile applications entrepreneurs and the wider industry.
  • Incubating and providing technical assistance to more than 100 firms in the agriculture and ICT sectors by establishing and strengthening small business incubators in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Cambodia, as well as in the ECA region.
  • Delivering a program to encourage and increase the competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Removing barriers to investment in cross-border broadband infrastructure and public-private partnership opportunities in the ECA region.
  • Convening the 4th infoDev Global Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2011 in Finland. The Global Forum is the largest gathering of the developing world’s innovation, technology entrepreneur, and business incubator community. It focuses on leveraging innovation and entrepreneurship at the grassroots for economic development, job creation, and social inclusion.
  • Generating major new resources and online tools that show the development community how ICTs and innovation systems can be meaningfully harnessed in agriculture and rural development projects.
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