EU-funded SME advisory programme launched in partnership with EBRD in Albania

By Neritan  Mullaj

 EU-funded SME advisory programme launched in partnership with EBRD in Albania

New programme to focus on improving SME competitiveness

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union and the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship in Albania organised today a business networking event to launch a new EU-funded programme of support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Head of the European Union Delegation to Albanian Ambassador Romana Vlahutin, speaking at the event, underlined the EU's long term assistance in promoting Albania's real economic development. "The enlargement process requires Albania to be a well-prepared country, with a strong economy and business able to compete with those of EU member states. The strengthening of SMEs through support in innovation and entrepreneurship is an investment in Albania as a future competitive EU member able to benefit from the enlarged internal market," Ambassador Vlahutin said.

Mr Arben Ahmetaj, Minister of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism and Entrepreneurship in Albania said: “We welcome this on-going commitment from the EU and the EBRD to supporting SME development in Albania. SMEs form the majority of businesses in Albania and programmes like this which focus on knowledge-transfer and competitiveness, are very relevant.”

The Director of the EBRD Small Business Support team, Mrs. Charlotte Ruhe, emphasised also the new EBRD Small Business Initiative. She said: “The EBRD is currently offering unique support to small and medium-sized enterprises, by helping them access a combined range of advisory services and finance. This programme is part of an on-going commitment from the EBRD and the EU to supporting SME development in Albania”.  

The EU is the EBRD’s largest single donor, having contributed 33 per cent of donor funding over the last five years in support of Bank activities across all countries where it works. The new SME advisory programme follows on the previous €1 million EU-funded EBRD advisory programme in 2008 and will aid small and medium-sized enterprises in Albania to tackle the internal challenges impeding their growth”.

Since the start of its operations in Albania, the EBRD has invested almost €1 billion in some 70 projects in various sectors of the country's economy.