Advisory support to boost small businesses in Romania

By Olga Rosca
@olgarosca

Advisory support to boost small businesses in Romania

EBRD, European Investment Advisory Hub and European Union launch programme to help businesses from south-eastern Europe obtain advice

The European Investment Advisory Hub, the EBRD and the European Union launched today, in Bucharest, a new programme committed to helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) obtain advice for sustainable growth.

The programme will support at least 240 SMEs in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania with tailored business advice over a three-year period. The services provided will enable the firms to access local and international consultancy services to improve their competitiveness and take their businesses to the next level. The programme is supported by the European Investment Advisory Hub, through funding from the European Union and complemented by EBRD co-financing.

Over 100 local businesses in Romania will benefit directly from the programme, which provides expertise across a wide range of areas including strategy, trade promotion, financial management, energy efficiency and marketing.

Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “The Investment Plan for Europe aims to stimulate growth and employment in Europe and small and medium-sized enterprises are a particular focus area. Providing advisory support to investment on the ground is a key objective of the Investment Plan for Europe and therefore the cooperation between the European Investment Advisory Hub and the EBRD in helping SMEs to grow is a significant and very welcome initiative.”

Simon Barnes, Head of Advisory Services, EIB, said: “We are particularly pleased to launch this programme in cooperation with the EBRD in the context of the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH). EIAH is a joint EC and EIB initiative and an integral part of the second pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe and provides advisory services for investment projects in the EU. A particular aim of the EIAH is to develop a network of partners, at both local and international level, to offer complementary services by institutions that are best placed and equipped to do so. The cooperation with the EBRD reflects this approach and represents a significant step in meeting unsatisfied demand for advisory support in the SME sector.”

Claudio Viezzoli, EBRD Managing Director for SME Finance and Development, commented: “We are very pleased to intensify our activities here in Romania. Our advisory programme has had a strong impact in advancing businesses as we aim to help them become national and regional champions. We very much welcome this regional collaboration with the European Union and the European Investment Advisory Hub, which will strengthen our joint impact on the ground.”

Businesses with a turnover of less than €50 million and fewer than 250 employees are eligible under the programme, provided they are majority locally owned. Working closely with the EBRD, a company’s first step under the programme is to assess its needs and growth opportunities. The EBRD then connects the firm to a specialised consultant or international adviser who can offer the relevant expertise. The programme also provides training opportunities for businesses and consultants, equipping them with the skills to take their companies further.

Background information

About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan, is one of the European Commission's top priorities. It focuses on boosting investment to create jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the central pillar of the Juncker Plan. It provides a first-loss guarantee, allowing the EIB to invest in more, often riskier, projects. The EFSI is already showing concrete results. As of October 2017, the projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI are expected to mobilise some €241 billion in investments and support up to 462,000 SMEs across all 28 Member States.

About the European Investment Advisory Hub

The European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH or the Hub) is one of the elements of the Investment Plan for Europe (IPEU), an initiative by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank that aims to boost investment in strategic projects around Europe to ensure that money reaches the real economy.

The European Investment Advisory Hub offers a single point of entry for advisory services for investment projects in the EU, building on the expertise of the EIB Group, the European Commission, National Promotional Institutions and Member States’ Managing Authorities. The Hub supports projects which may be eligible for financing by the EIB (either under EFSI or otherwise), but the advisory support available under the Hub is not limited to EIB-financed projects.

About the EIB

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union's bank. The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the EU and is the only bank owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investments in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy.

As the largest multilateral borrower and lender by volume, the EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects which contribute to furthering EU policy objectives. More than 90 per cent of EIB activity is focused on Europe but it also supports the EU's external and development policies.

About the EBRD

The EBRD is one of the largest institutional investors in Romania, having invested €7.6 billion in more than 400 projects in the country. The EBRD’s commitment to enterprise development in Romania started with advice for small businesses in 1993. The EBRD has helped over 700 enterprises in the country access advice and successfully transform their business. Within a year of completing an advisory project, 72 per cent of companies working with the EBRD boosted their turnover with a median increase of 45 per cent, and 55 per cent improved their productivity, as they expanded their business.