Advice for Small Businesses: overview

At the EBRD we provide more than just finance.

Within the Small Business Initiative, in addition to finance, we also provide business advice to help small and medium-sized businesses grow, succeed, then grow again, becoming genuine catalysts for their local economies and region.

A vibrant small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector is a vital ingredient for a healthy market economy. However, finance alone often cannot meet the challenges facing small and medium-sized businesses. They also need access to know-how to improve their performance and grow.

 

Video: Our know how

Learn how business advice enables small businesses to grow, develop and thrive.

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We draw on the know-how of our network of international advisers and local consultants to help transform a wide range of businesses, looking at areas including strategy, marketing, operations, quality management, energy efficiency, financial management and beyond.

We also build strong, competitive markets for business advice that will thrive independently, well into the future. We’ve been doing this successfully for over twenty years, committing over €230 million of donor funds to assist nearly 14,000 small and medium-sized businesses in 25 countries. When it comes to creating healthier, more prosperous and more durable small businesses, we know how.

Our results

We have transformed the performance of thousands of small businesses and laid the foundations or smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in markets across our region. Results matter to us. Focusing on the right objectives, our projects achieve the best possible outcomes and we are confident that the results speak for themselves.

By connecting our clients to local consultants and international advisers, we help transform a wide range of businesses. From the smallest companies looking to grow, to those going global, our expert network of advisers helps our clients step up and start thinking big.

One year after completing each project, we return to measure changes in the client’s business performance. Within a year of a project:

  • 77 per cent of our clients increase their turnover by an average of 23 per cent and improve their productivity by an average of 8 per cent
  • 57 per cent create new jobs, increasing their employee numbers by an average of 14 per cent. Last year alone, our clients created over 9,500 new jobs
  • 17 per cent secure external financing to continue their growth.

Market development

We also know that a competitive market for business advice requires a wide variety of advisory services and qualified, competent consultants to deliver them. Over the years we have:

  • Grown our consultant network by 20 per cent annually. We now have 6,000 local consultants ready to help small businesses, with almost a third (28 per cent) based outside of large cities
  • Trained the next generation of consultants in core consulting skills
  • Introduced new and more sophisticated services, including advice on energy and resource efficiency (from 0 projects in 2004 to 7 per cent of our portfolio today)
  • Supported the establishment of local business associations in countries such as the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Far East Russia.

Our professional development programmes help consultants to build their competencies to better serve their clients. We offer a variety of opportunities, from introductory courses to help new consultants establish their business and learn essential consulting skills, to training for more experienced consultants to improve their marketing, business diagnostics and project management.

We also enable consultants to expand their services with specialised training in technical areas such as energy efficiency and export promotion. By creating a strong pool of local expertise, we know that the benefits of our work will be sustained into the future.

But a market does not work without strong demand. Client contributions to our projects have risen consistently over the years, demonstrating a growing willingness to pay for external advice. We make this a key priority in our engagement with a business. Eighty-two per cent of our clients have never worked with a consultant before starting their project, but when we come to evaluate their projects one year after project completion, 95 per cent of our clients say they would hire a consultant again, and almost half have already done so.

Download the Advice for Small Businesses client leaflet