The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina marked yesterday the successful completion of a 33-month programme of advisory support to small and medium-sized enterprises across Bosnia and Herzegovina, announced the EU Delegation to B&H.
This programme was funded by the EU through Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, which provided €2 million (IPA 2009). It helped small and medium-sized businesses to develop the tools and know-how to innovate, attract finance and expertise and become business leaders. In addition to the assistance provided to the individual businesses, the programme also helped boost the competitiveness and productivity of the BiH private sector.
Since 1996, the European Union has supported Small Business Support’s work in Bosnia and Herzegovina, contributing almost €3.5 million in funding.
“Developing the private sector through small and medium-sized businesses is an important priority for the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But it is also vital to remember to reach out to entrepreneurs who may be marginalised by gender, disability or even geography,” added Martin Schieder, Head of Operations Section for Economic Development, Infrastructure and Natural Resources at the EU Delegation to BiH.
The EBRD’s Small Business Support team connects businesses with local consultants and international advisers whose expertise helps lay the foundations for sustainable and innovative businesses.
The results have been impressive, with 78 per cent of the assisted companies reporting an increase in their revenues over the course of the project. The programme also made a substantial contribution to job creation, with an average increase in employment by the assisted enterprises of more than 20 per cent.
“Small businesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina face many challenges, from limited access to external finance to operational and managerial constraints that do not allow them to fully access all potential markets. If they want to grow, they often need access to expertise as well as financing,” commented Libor Krkoska, Head of the EBRD Resident Office in Sarajevo.
In addition to providing advisory support, the EBRD has invested more than €1.5 billion into the BiH economy. Over a quarter of this funding went to support small and medium-sized businesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both directly and through credit lines channelled through local banks.