SARAJEVO, November 30 (FENA) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are providing additional support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina confronted with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
A €5 million loan to Sparkasse Bank will be on-lent to businesses to increase their competitiveness and meet EU standards. The funds will ensure continued access to finance for companies, help them meet high production standards and enable them to take full advantage of trading opportunities, regionally and on the European market.
Furthermore, the loan will spur business investment in more modern equipment and production facilities, which are expected to become a catalyst for a green recovery in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region. The funds are part of a wider EBRD-EU program supporting SMEs across the Western Balkans. The EBRD is providing loans to businesses by way of partner financial institutions, while the EU is providing incentive payments and technical assistance aiming to identify and verify the best available equipment and technologies.
“We are continuously working with our institutional and financial partners to support private sector companies in the country. It is now more important than ever to provide adequate finance to overcome the economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. SMEs are the backbone of the local economy, which is why we are stepping up our support and commitment today,” said Manuela Naessl, Head of EBRD in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Richard Máša, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina added that “investing in the competitiveness of the Western Balkans’ private sector by supporting innovation, green and digital transition of SMEs are at the core of a new EU Economic and Investment Plan worth up to € 9 billion for the region.
The combination of grants and loan guarantees should spur investments to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs and enhance job creation. The Covid-19 pandemic has increased SMEs’ interest in digitalization and BiH is no exception. The additional EU support of more than €30 million to SMEs in BiH will further stimulate investments in digital technologies and skills for building up the SMEs resilience in crisis.
“The regular financial services, as well as the special credit lines offered by Sparkasse Bank, demonstrate our commitment to support growth and develop the entrepreneurial potential of SMEs, thereby contributing to stimulating the overall business cycle in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Maintaining constructive cooperation with the EBRD and offering a new credit line will be of great value to us, particularly at a moment when entrepreneurs worldwide are faced with the financial challenges of the pandemic and desperately need easier access, not only to finance but also to incentives,” said Sanel Kusturica, CEO of Sparkasse Bank BiH.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To date, it has invested over €2.7 billion in 187 projects. The Bank focuses on the expansion of the local private sector, promotion of regional and international integration and the sustainable use of resources, stated the EBRD Sarajevo Office.