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EBRD expands support to SMEs with launch of Small Business Impact Fund

By Anna  Wilson

Launch accompanied by signing for two Georgian banks of interest in Women in Business Programme under the Small Business Initiative

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) launched today its Small Business Impact Fund. The Fund, under the umbrella of the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative (SBI), will provide the main vehicle to channel donor resources to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).   
The EBRD provides over €1.5 billion to finance and develop SMEs each year. Under the Small Business Initiative, an integrated set of tools is provided to promote SMEs, including financing for businesses directly and through financial institutions, co-financing, business advice and policy.
Activities in each country under the Small Business Initiative are also adapted to ensure they are relevant for each country’s priorities and needs. SME competitiveness is fostered by targeted key strategic priorities such as innovation, trade promotion, inclusive growth and corporate governance.
EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “Small businesses matter for economic development. There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit across our region but much remains to be done to foster that spirit. The Small Business Initiative draws on a number of the EBRD’s strengths, from indirect and direct investment to capacity-building and policy. Through the SBI, we can and will do more.”
“With the Small Business Impact Fund we are aiming to create a network of like-minded donors working together with the EBRD to set strategic priorities and support innovative products that help SMEs innovate and grow,” added Claudio Viezzoli, Managing Director for SME Finance and Development at the EBRD.
Today also marked a commitment by two Georgian banks to join the EBRD’s Women in Business programme, the first product to be launched under the Small Business Initiative. The Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank, the two largest banks in the country, signed letters expressing their interest in joining the regional Women in Business programme, which covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Over €50 million from the EBRD for credit lines channelled through partner financial institutions is provided in a comprehensive programme of support for women-led SMEs. This is combined with €9 million in donor funding from the European Union, Sweden and the Early Transition Countries Fund enabling risk mitigation funds and technical assistance to partner banks, as well as business advice, training and mentoring for women entrepreneurs.
Claudio Viezzoli added: “We are delighted to launch the Women in Business Programme in Georgia today. We believe women’s entrepreneurship and women-led SMEs are an economic priority for ensuring sustainable growth. The Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank are long-standing partners of the EBRD and I am pleased to see them ready to seize the opportunity of the women’s banking market.”
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