Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina will benefit from a program from the EBRD and the EU that gives them access to loans, incentive grants and technical assistance to improve their prospects on international markets.
The package of finance and technical assistance, launched in Sarajevo today, will help small local firms improve their production capacities and processes. They will also raise the quality of their products and services through the introduction of EU norms in areas such as environmental protection, safety and quality standards.
The EBRD is providing €20 million to four partner commercial banks, UniCredit Bank Banja Luka, UniCredit Bank Mostar, Sparkasse Bank and Intesa Sanpaolo Banka, for on-lending to local SMEs. Participating companies will benefit from technical assistance to prepare projects and from incentive grants worth 15 per cent of the investment costs, both funded by the EU.
Ian Brown, EBRD Head of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “We are confident that this new programme will improve small businesses’ access to much-needed finance. The smart combination of loans, incentive grants and technical assistance will help them improve their performance and succeed in even more challenging markets.”
Nicolas Bizel, Head of Operations Section for Justice and Home Affairs and Public Administration Reform of the EU Delegation to BiH said: “The new Programme is supported by the EU under the regional investment platform, which aims to enhance access to finance for SMEs with innovative and high-growth potential in the Western Balkans. The new Programme is the successor of the EU-EBRD “SME Competitiveness Facility in BiH” supported by the EU in the amount of €4 million. We hope that SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina will equally benefit from this new programme and improve the quality of their products in line with EU standards.”
As a long-standing partner of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EBRD supports sustainable growth through a combination of investment and assistance for policy reforms. Since it began operations in the country in 1996, the EBRD has invested €2.5 billion in around 161 projects. Last year alone, the Bank invested some €200 million in 15 new projects.