The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union are extending their support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to a total of almost €1.1 billion in credit lines and trade finance and €58.3 million in EU grants.
At a high-level conference in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, said: “We are pleased to announce the extension of our successful programme of access to finance supporting reforms important for the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area to function. The EU4Business-EBRD Credit line has allowed SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing, retail, agriculture and food processing, transport, services and health care to improve their products, strengthen their export potential and adopt EU standards and technical norms. The combination of EBRD finance and EU grants has proven to be a perfect match to the needs of Georgian companies."
Through the EU4Business-EBRD Credit line – a joint EBRD-EU programme supported by the EU4Business initiative and active since September 2016 – over 100 Georgian companies have received €60 million in financing so far. Concrete projects under the EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line range from investments in machinery to complex programmes where companies had the opportunity to draw on free technical assistance provided by an international team of experts. Half of the projects financed in Georgia are with companies located in regions outside the capital, Tbilisi.
“We are delighted to see the first real results of our financing supporting Georgian companies. From hazelnut processing to road construction, from promoting local produce to succeeding in foreign markets – companies financed by the programme have decided to invest in the European standards, and we are happy to be part of their success,” said Bruno Balvanera, EBRD Director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus.
The EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line is also available in Moldova and will soon be launched in Ukraine. It will assist local SMEs in reaping the benefits associated with their countries’ free trade agreements with the EU, the world’s largest trading block.
The EBRD supports businesses with much-needed finance through local partner banks, which allows them to invest in efficient and modern equipment and technologies. EU funds complement investments with technical expertise and provide incentive payments to companies for successful completion.
Access to knowledge and know-how is yet another dimension of the EBRD-EU cooperation, with EU funding of €18 million, while the EBRD SME Finance and Development Group fosters advisory services for enhanced performance and growth in all EU Eastern Partnership countries.
The conference in Tbilisi today gathered representatives of the EU, EBRD, International Monetary Fund, International Finance Corporation, local firms and business associations. It provided an opportunity to take stock and discuss the future outlook of the programme. Participants agreed that the combination of EBRD finance through local banks such as TBC Bank or Bank of Georgia and EU grant funds remains an attractive and crucial proposition for local businesses.