EBRD extends €5 million to Banka për Biznes in Kosovo

EBRD extends €5 million to Banka për Biznes in Kosovo

EU-supported programme to boost competitiveness of small businesses in the country

    • €5 million loan to Banka për Biznes for on-lending to local SMEs
    • Loans to small and medium-sized businesses to boost competitiveness
    • EU grants to make financing more affordable

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.

EBRD and EU extend their support to SME competitiveness in Kosovo

EBRD and EU extend their support to SME competitiveness in Kosovo

Over 130 representatives from Kosovo businesses learned about  funding opportunities supporting competitiveness and export development.

Prishtina, 18 May, 2021.

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.

EBRD loan to Kosovo’s ProCredit Bank supports local small businesses

EBRD loan to Kosovo’s ProCredit Bank supports local small businesses

  • EBRD provides €20 million loan to ProCredit Bank Kosovo to on-lend to small firms
  • Small firms also to receive grants from EU IPA, managed by EUO/EUSR Kosovo
  • Loan provided under the Kosovo SME Competitiveness Support Programme that aims to help small firms move towards EU standards

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Kosovo will be able to improve their competitiveness with the help of a financial package extended to ProCredit Bank Kosovo by the EBRD and the EU.

The package combines a €20 million EBRD loan with EU investment grants provided by the EU under its Instrument I for Pre-Accession Assistance as well as the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund.

SMEs form the backbone of Kosovo’s economy. They are also the key market segment for ProCredit Bank Kosovo, established in 1990 and a market leader today. Recipients of loans under the facility will be able to invest in upgrades of their production lines, improvements in product quality, environmental protection and worker safety in line with EU standards.

Despite their dominant position in the economy of Kosovo, local small businesses often suffer from a lack of competitiveness and access to finance. This is being addressed by the EBRD-run Western Balkans SME Competitiveness Support Programme, under which the funding to ProCredit Bank Kosovo is being provided. A combination of long-term finance, technical cooperation and investment incentives form a package to help unlock the full potential of SMEs.

“The signing of today’s contract reflects the shared principles and the joint commitment of both institutions to promoting growth and employment by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in Kosovo,” said Ilir Aliu, Chief Executive Officer of ProCredit Bank Kosovo.

The bank is a key provider of SME finance in Kosovo and is seeing a growing demand for its lending services. It is fully owned by ProCredit Holding AG & Co KGaA, the parent company of the development-oriented ProCredit group, which consists of commercial banks for small and medium enterprises whose operational focus is south-eastern and eastern Europe.

Zsuzsanna Hargitai, EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans, added: “We are pleased to sign this new agreement with ProCredit Bank Kosovo, a long-standing partner of the local economy. We are confident that the combination of commercial loans with blended finance will improve small businesses’ access to much needed finance. This will provide an impulse to further improve their performance.”

Luigi Brusa, Head of Cooperations, EU/EUSR in Kosovo, added: “I am very happy to announce a brand new cooperation opportunity for Kosovo SMEs provided under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The EU is and will continue to be the biggest donor, investor and trade partner in Kosovo. At the moment there are two programmes funded by EU with the total amount of €10 million that aim to support SMEs in increasing and improving their production capacities, enhance processes and product quality.”

The EBRD began investing in Kosovo in 1999. To date, the Bank has signed 63 projects in the country with a net cumulative business volume of €362 million. Kosovo became an EBRD member and country of operations in December 2012.

 

Loan to Kosovo’s BPB boosts SME competitiveness

Loan to Kosovo’s BPB boosts SME competitiveness

  • EBRD provides €5 million loan to Banka per Biznes (BPB) for on-lending to local SMEs
  • SMEs will also receive grants funded from the EU IPA, managed by the EUO/EUSR Kosovo under the EBRD-run Kosovo SME Competitiveness Support Programme
  • Loan will help SMEs move towards EU standards and boost their competitiveness

SMEs in Kosovo will get help in moving towards EU standards as the first loan in the country is made available from the EBRD and EU under the Kosovo SME Competitiveness Support Programme. The EBRD loan is backed with investment grants from the EU, provided under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).

The €5 million loan was signed with Banka per Biznes (BPB), the seventh biggest of the total 10 banks operating in Kosovo, by Henry Russell, the EBRD’s Head of Financial Institutions for the region. CEO Arton Celina signed for BPB. The loan will be used for on-lending to small and medium-sized businesses, to help them upgrade production facilities and improve their environmental protection, worker safety and product quality in line with EU standards. A combination of long-term finance, technical cooperation and investment incentives form a package designed to help unlock the full potential of the country’s SMEs. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises form the backbone of economies across the Western Balkans region. With the prospect of EU accession and pressures on growth – including competition from emerging markets – the competitiveness of local SMEs hinge on enhancing the quality of output through innovation and expansion to export markets.

With this in mind, the EBRD launched a follow-up on our first competitiveness facility, the EU-EBRD Private Sector Support Facility, in nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015.

In 2017, funding was approved for a €15 million regional programme through the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) as well as additional support through national EU IPA funds in FYR Macedonia and Kosovo. This funding allows the programme to be rolled out in all six countries of the Western Balkans under the WB EDIF umbrella, optimising impact through scale, regional coordination and cross-country synergies. Its holistic approach enables SMEs to access blended instruments tailored to their needs and the stage of their growth.

BPB, the programme’s first partner in Kosovo, was established in 2001 and offers a wide range of commercial banking products, with a focus on SME and retail. The EBRD has held a 10 per cent stake in the bank since 2011, with the majority stake held by Kosovan businessmen and 4.6 per cent by Banka di Cividale.

The EBRD began investing in Kosovo in 1999. To date, the Bank has signed 59 projects in the country with a net cumulative business volume of €342 million. Kosovo became an EBRD member and country of operations in December 2012.