EBRD and ZSE support growth in Croatia

By Axel  Reiserer


Facilitating access to finance for SMEs is key

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) are launching the “SME Growth Market Project”. Presented to the public today in Zagreb, the project aims to increase the access of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to local capital markets.

SMEs are vital for the Croatian economy, yet access to finance remains a challenge. In this situation capital markets can provide a viable alternative. The joint project is aiming to create a reginal SME financing platform in order to create an efficient and attractive instrument in compliance with the EU’s Capital Market Union action plan.

Opening the event Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, EBRD Director, Regional Head of Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Slovakia said: "We are pleased to see Croatia’s economy growing again. This is promising, and the challenge now is to convert this revival into a long-term sustainable revival. Our project can play an important role in this by bringing together the needs of small enterprises with the abilities of the capital market."

Ivana Gažić, President of the Management Board of the Zagreb Stock Exchange, added: “In the European Union, nearly 99 per cent of all enterprises are SMEs. Especially in emerging economies, SMEs are the driving force behind economic growth. However, small businesses face more severe credit conditions than larger companies, and still face limited access to capital market financing. This is a problem that we aim to address.”

The project is co-founded by the TaiwanBusiness EBRD Technical Cooperation fund and Ambassador David Yung-Lo Lin, Head of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, attended the presentation in Zagreb.

The EU supports facilitating the access to finance for SMEs through its new “Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2 (MiFID2), which will enter into force in early 2017. The regulation will ease listing and reporting requirements for SME markets compared to the main markets.

Taiwanese donor support has contributed to the Bank’s work since 1991. It is especially directed towards information technology areas of the knowledge economy, business advice to SMEs and the EBRD Women in Business programmes, as well as projects in sustainable resource management and intelligent transport systems.

The EBRD signed its first project in Croatia in 1994 and has invested over €3.54 billion in 189 projects to date. The Bank’s activities cover all areas of the economy but are especially strong in the infrastructure, corporate, financial institutions and energy sectors.