Bolstering SME lending in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By Axel  Reiserer

The EBRD is providing a €10 million loan to Sberbank BH d.d. for on-lending to local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The funds are being provided under the Western Balkans and Croatia Financing Framework aimed at supporting banks and non-bank financial institutions in extending finance to small enterprises.

Operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina since February 2012 Sberbank BH actively expends its business through investments in infrastructure, new products and modern business services. The bank is currently diversifying its operations with a special focus on the SME sector. This will benefit local enterprises for which access to longer-term finance often remains difficult.

SME lending is a key element of the EBRD’s activities. In the process of strengthening the economic recovery after the crisis it is more important than ever to support local companies which form the backbone of any sound and sustainable economy. The development of the SME sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been in the focus in recent years with improvements of the regulatory framework, the business environment and access to finance identified as the crucial issues.

The new loan to a Sberbank subsidiary continues the successful cooperation between Russia’s largest bank and the EBRD in support of SMEs. Previously the EBRD has successfully supported SME and energy efficiency projects with Sberbank subsidiaries in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

Libor Krkoška, head of the EBRD office in Sarajevo, said: “We are pleased to sign this loan agreement with Sberbank today as it will significantly strengthen the support for SMEs in the country. The provision of long-term lending is critical for sound economic development and the creation of secure jobs.”

“SMEs are very important for our business. We see these companies as key drivers of economic growth, so we are pleased to announce availability of new funds for SME”, Edin Karabeg, Sberbank BH CEO added.

To date, the EBRD has invested more than €1.6 billion, in some 110 projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a focus on infrastructure development, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and strengthening the financial sector.