63 SMEs in Kosovo have already benefited from the EBRD and EU supported SME Competitiveness Programme, which offers a combination of loans and grants to help SMEs invest their competitiveness. These investments, of total value of over €17 million, have contributed to over 2,000 jobs being sustained. Only 15 supported SMEs are in the Prishtina, while 48 SMEs are outside the capital city. The sector with the highest number of projects financed is manufacturing.
These are some of the points presented in an online workshop organized yesterday, with the aim to showcase funding opportunities to small businesses in Kosovo, to 130 of them who joined the online event.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has dedicated €30 million funds under the SME Competitiveness Support Programme to Kosovo, which are being on-lent to SMEs through commercial banks: ProCredit Bank Kosovo, Banka Per Biznes and the newly joined Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo.
The Programme aims to build a more competitive, green and well-integrated economy in Kosovo by providing small business with access to well-structured finance and business advisory. After successful investment, SMEs can also benefit from a cashback grant worth 15% of the loan amount, funded by the EU.
“Kosovo faces three main economic challenges: (1) legal framework, stable, predictable and forcible legal framework, (2) reassuring demand, the right skills that meet the demand in the labor market and (3) facilitating access to know-how and to finance. We are here to support business growth and increased employment opportunities for the people of Kosovo,” said Riccardo Serri, the Deputy Head of EU Office in Kosovo. EU has invested €5 million to provide a grant of up to 15% for each loan taken from one of the local bank partners by the beneficiary business under this Programme, for the purpose of targeting investment in new technology and capacity improvement.
Neil Taylor, Head of EBRD in Kosovo said: “SMEs have been badly affected by the year-long crisis of coronavirus. The EBRD, together with our partners in the EU as well as our three partner banks, are here to help businesses recover and to strengthen their ability to export to EU and to speed up the transition to greener, more sustainable economy. One thing I have learned over the last three years living here is that with a little bit of help, entrepreneurs here can be really, incredibly innovative”.
The importance of the EU support was also highlighted in the panel discussion with the three Partner Banks.
Giovanni Vaccari, the Project Manager of the consortium of Project Consultants, led by RINA Consulting S.P.A., explained the benefits and mechanisms of the Programme, from project idea to verification and grant payment, to the audience of more than 130 representatives from local businesses.