The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has announced the approval of a US$2.7mn grant for pilot information and communication technology (ICT) projects for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Latin America.


The projects were selected from proposals submitted in response to a call issued by the MIF in July 2006 under the ICT Innovation Program for E-Business and SME Development (ICT4BUS).


Over 200 organisations from 20 countries registered for the programme; 150 submitted proposals. This was the third call for proposals since the program was launched in 2002.


The following projects were selected:



    • E-business to serve low-income SME owners in vulnerable areas of Medell­n, Colombia. This project consists of implementing an online strategy for small enterprises located in marginal neighbourhoods of Medell­n to improve their efficiency and access to new, more advanced markets. It will be executed by the Corporacin Incubadora de Empresas de Base Tecnolgica (Technology-Based Business Incubator Corporation) of Antioquia.


    • Strengthening the craft production chain in the Puno region of Peru. The purpose of this project is to develop a supply chain platform for textile craft producers in Puno. The supply chain will include suppliers of inputs, marketing services and brokers. The executing agency for the project will be Asociacin para el Desarrollo del Entorno (Business Climate Development Association).


    • ICT innovations for eco-friendly farming and forestry SMEs in Costa Rica. This project will increase the capacity of SMEs to access international markets for products produced using eco-friendly methods, by linking them to buyers and sellers in those markets; improve their operations so they can meet market requirements; and develop marketing and pricing strategies. The programme will be implemented by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE).


    • Competitive intelligence system for SMEs in the electrical, construction materials and decoration industries of Brazil. The project will implement a competitive intelligence platform that will provide information on market trends, technical updates, online newsletters and business services, such as pooled purchases of inputs, interactive forums and business partner matching. The executing agency for the project will be the Federao do Comrcio do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro State Business Federation).


    • New technologies for environmental management in fruit-producing SMEs in Argentina. This project consists of developing an information system for the collection, management and distribution of field data on climate, diseases and other factors affecting citrus fruit production in the Concordia region. The executing agency will be the Asociacin de Citricultores de Concordia (Concordia Citrus Growers Association).


    • Radio frequency identification and citizen’s band radio (RFID/CB) applications to improve fill rates by SMEs in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The project will develop a supply chain management system with different modules, such as storage, logistics, online ordering, catalogues, customer service and order tracking. This initiative will be carried out by the Cmara Nacional de la Industria Electrnica, de Telecomunicaciones e Informtica [National Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology Association] (Canieti) of Mexico.


    • Online Technology Innovation Centers to improve SMEs in Peru and Uruguay. This project will use a traceability platform, a marketing platform that includes product catalogues, business interoperability and a geographic information system (GIS) designed to monitor crops grown by member businesses. The executing agency will be Laboratorio Tecnolgico de Uruguay (Technology Laboratory of Uruguay).


    • Mechanics Web in Brazil. This project consists of developing a marketing and customer service platform for vehicle repair in Brazil, processing service orders and providing business resources, such as inventory and finance. The initiative will be carried out by Sindicato da Indstria de Reparao de Veh­culos e Acessrios do Estado de So Paulo [So Paulo State Association of Vehicle Repair and Spare Parts Businesses] (Sindirepa).


    • Community market access network for organic produce farmers in Brazil. The project consists of a portal that will provide a wide variety of information, along with integrated services and solutions for organisation, development and control of the production, logistics and marketing of organic products. The executing agency will be the Sociedade Nacional de Agricultura [National Agriculture Association] (SNA) of Brazil.


  • Pilot project for electronic invoicing for small manufacturers in Pichincha, Ecuador. This project will introduce electronic invoicing in Ecuador, based on open international standards, which will also be used for tax statement filing. The Cmara de la Pequea Industria de Pichincha [Pichincha Small Business Association] (Capeipe) will be the executing agency.


The ICT4BUS program includes a facility for the transfer to other countries in the region of ICT-based solutions and services developed under projects financed by the programme.


The MIF issued a call for proposals to the executing agencies of ICT4 BUS projects and selected as beneficiary of this facility the proposal Technology Transfer of the Traceability System for the Cattle Industry, Trazar, for Nicaragua. This project will receive a US$150,000 grant from the MIF.


The Trazar project, carried out by the Asociacin Cultural para el Desarrollo Integral (ACDI) [Cultural Association for Comprehensive Development], included the development and implementation in Argentina of a comprehensive system for the traceability of cattle that can manage information throughout the entire value chain. The Asociacin de Exportadores de Productos No Tradicionales (APEN) [Association of Exporters of Non-traditional Products] seeks to replicate Trazar in Nicaragua in association with ACDI.


The MIF is an independent fund administered by the IADB that supports private sector development in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a focus on microenterprise and small business.


The Institute for Connectivity in the Americas, an agency of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, is contributing US$500,000 in financing to the projects.