EU supports EBRD small business programmes in the Eastern Partnership region

By Sergiy Grytsenko

The European Union has pledged additional funds of €5 million to support the EBRD’s Enterprise Growth Programme (EGP) and Business Advisory Service (BAS) Programmes, which provide micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with direct assistance from experienced business advisors and consultants, helping them to adapt to the demands of a market economy.

This technical assistance from the European Union is earmarked for use in the EU Eastern Partnership countries, which include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The committed funds are sufficient to implement over 30 EGP and over 250 BAS projects in the region.

The main beneficiaries of the EGP and BAS programmes will be smaller businesses located in the EU Eastern Partnership countries. The Bank is also planning to engage relevant ministries, SME development agencies, investment promotion and regional enterprise agencies as well as regional chambers of commerce, which will play an important role in the successful implementation of the EGP and BAS programmes.

The EBRD’s BAS Programme, launched in 1995, is designed to assist individual enterprises to engage with local consultants on specific projects with a rapid payback. Additionally, BAS carries out market development activities to develop the capacity of SMEs and local business advisory providers.

The objective of the EGP, started by the Bank in 1993, is to help small and medium enterprises transform themselves through structural changes and the development of new business skills at senior management level. The EGP’s advisory services are provided by experienced directors, industry experts and financial specialists.

The EGP and BAS supported projects bring best business standards and improve SME management skills like planning, production, quality control and marketing, thereby making them more competitive and able to attract external financing. Together with the development of local business consultancy skills, EGP and BAS contribute to the development of a sustainable market economy.