EBRD, EU and TBC Bank to help Georgian companies grasp new trade opportunities

By Loretta  Martikian

EBRD, EU and TBC Bank to help Georgian companies grasp new trade opportunities

US$ 100 million equivalent in local currency will finance SME development

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are expanding their joint programme with TBC Bank to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Georgia by adopting EU standards to make them more competitive on international markets, thus allowing them to benefit from the opportunities offered by the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between Georgia and the EU.

The EBRD is extending a loan of US$ 100 million equivalent in lari (GEL), the local currency, to TBC Bank to support the development of local SMEs. This package will be split into three allocations:  one of up to US$ 60 million local currency equivalent to help businesses converge with EU standards and take advantage of the free trade opportunities with the EU; one of up to US$ 20 million equivalent for SME finance to help the development of the private sector; and another of up to US$ 20 million equivalent to support businesses managed or owned by female entrepreneurs.  The funds will be on-lent to private sector clients by TBC Bank.

An EU contribution of €19 million (approximately GEL 50 million) will serve to provide investment grants, technical assistance and training to partner financial institutions and enhance the ability of local banks to accept the risk related to SME lending.

The EU supports private sector development in Georgia through its EU4Business initiative, which helps SMEs to benefit from the DCFTA by improving the business environment, increasing the knowledge and skills of businesses and by supporting SMEs to get better access to finance. The EU4Business-EBRD credit line is a joint EBRD-EU initiative to help SMEs finance investments. The two partners work together for private sector development in Eastern Partnership countries, notably with the EBRD’s Small Business Support programme, which has benefited from an EU contribution of €18 million (GEL 48 million), as well as the Women in Business programme with EU contribution of €5 million (GEL 13 million). The EBRD’s finance to support female entrepreneurs is also supported by Sweden and the Early Transition Countries Fund.*

Bruno Balvanera, EBRD Director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus, said: “We are pleased to expand our support to small entrepreneurs in Georgia. The DCFTA is an agreement that will shape Georgia’s future. This financing facility, which we launched today, will drive and motivate local businesses to take one step further and become more competitive on regional markets. We would like to express our gratitude to our long-standing partner the European Union for their cooperation in areas of critical importance for the development of Georgia.”

Janos Herman, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, said: “SME development is crucial for job creation and economic growth. We are therefore glad to extend our cooperation with TBC Bank, so that more Georgian SMEs can benefit from free trade opportunities with the European Union. Access to finance in local currency is a much-needed step in this direction and EU grant contribution will allow for affordable investments to bring production in line with EU standards.”

Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, CEO of TBC Bank, said: “We are happy to be continuing our partnership with the EBRD and the EU. Long-term local currency financing is extremely important for the Georgian financial sector and we are proud to be the beneficiaries of such a complex transaction. This credit line will help TBC Bank to strengthen our leading role in the Georgian market.”

With its local presence and 25 years of experience in working to develop the private sector in Georgia, the EBRD is in a strong position to successfully promote this new loan. The EBRD is the largest institutional investor in Georgia and to date has invested over €3 billion in the country.

*The Early Transition Countries Fund is supported by Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.