EBRD loan helps Macedonian food manufacturer expand and boost employment

An EBRD loan has helped Vitaminka, an established, domestic business, expand into new markets and boost employment in FYR Macedonia.

The challenge

Vitaminka is the largest food manufacturer in FYR Macedonia. It was created to meet the needs of the unified former Yugoslav market. Until the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991, Vitaminka was catering for 24 million people and its sales reached €34 million per year.

When FYR Macedonia gained independence in 1991, Vitaminka struggled as neighbouring countries abruptly closed their borders, leaving a domestic market of just two million people.

The collapse of the export market for Vitaminka was followed by four years of zero sales growth. But the company persevered and survived, and in 2007 it received its first loan from the EBRD.

Financing of €4 million was needed to develop new products, expand the company’s activity in the Western Balkans and other countries and explore new opportunities.

Creating employment

Sales are growing steadily and Vitaminka now has clients from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Slovenia. As a result, it has become the second biggest private business in the city of Prilep, where it is based.

This means a lot to Vitaminka’s 420 employees and to the local farmers who provide the raw materials for Vitaminka’s 300 products.

In fact, more than 50 people have been hired to work on a new product, soft chocolate cookies, which Vitaminka is introducing with the help of the EBRD loan.

Supporting businesses in the Western Balkans

The loan to Vitaminka comes under the Western Balkans Local Enterprise Facility, an investment instrument established in 2006 by the EBRD with financial contributions and support from the Italian government.

The Facility provides individual investments of up to €8 million and has been instrumental in providing much-needed finance for the Western Balkans through mainly equity and quasi-equity financing to small and medium-sized local enterprises.