The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is extending a €5 million loan to Banka për Biznes in Kosovo to support the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country. This transaction will be the second credit line to Banka për Biznes under the same programme, capitalising on the expertise and knowledge that has been built up following the full utilisation of the previous facility, which was signed in 2018.The new facility is part of the Western Balkans SME Competitiveness Support Programme, to which the EBRD provides loans and the European Union (EU) contributes incentive payments and technical assistance. The goal is to help SMEs modernise their activities and take advantage of trade opportunities in the Western Balkans region and wider European market.
The funds will support local small businesses to reach best industry standards and implement EU directives. The aim is to encourage SMEs to invest in upgrades in three key areas: environmental protection, health and safety, and product quality. At least 60 per cent of all loans will support energy-saving investments.
Participating SMEs will also have access to tailor-made advice and know-how for introducing and implementing standards and directives to make them more competitive in EU markets. In addition, they will benefit from grant incentives worth up to 15 per cent of the total loan amount on successful project completion. The dedicated technical assistance and grants are both funded by the EU under the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF).
Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans, said: “We are very pleased to step up our cooperation with Banka për Biznes and to further support local SMEs. The new funding will facilitate access to well-structured finance for small businesses, helping them to become more competitive and to recover from the negative effects following the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Luigi Brusa, Head of Cooperation Section at the EU Office, said: “Through this facility and our joint efforts, we will enable Kosovan enterprises easier access to financing and allow SMEs to reach EU standards and expand regionally and internationally. The EU is and will continue to be the biggest donor, investor and trade partner in Kosovo.”
Arton Celina, CEO of Banka për Biznes said: “With this contract that we are signing for the second time with EBRD, BPB continues to show that it is the right hand of Micro and Small businesses and is continuously committed to help this category with various projects. This line of credit has shown that it helps not only our customers, but also contributes to the overall performance of SMEs in Kosovo. Consequently, they become more competitive in domestic and international markets. Our strategy also focuses on leading such advanced projects that will offer a wide range of banking products.”
Banka për Biznes was founded in 2001 and offers a wide range of commercial banking products, with a particular focus on SMEs.
The EBRD has invested €545 million in Kosovo since it began operating there in 2012. The Bank’s strategic priorities in the country are to promote the green economy, support the competitive development of the private sector and foster regional integration.