Conference in Zagreb highlights opportunities for growth
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is continuing its support for female entrepreneurs by hosting a conference entitled “Women in Business: Opportunities for Growth” in Zagreb today. Opening the event Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, the EBRD’s Regional Director for Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and the Slovak Republic, said: “Women in Business is a flagship programme for us and since its launch in Croatia in 2015 we have seen great progress.”
Other opening remarks were provided by Ambassador David Yung-Lo Lin from the Taipei Representative Office in the United Kingdom, and Saša Drezgić, Croatia’s Deputy Minister of Finance. The event was attended by more than 100 participants who, after the opening speeches, had the opportunity to follow two panel discussions.
The EBRD’s Women in Business programme in Croatia is funded by the EBRD, the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund. It helps women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access finance through local partner financial institutions, and to benefit from business advice from local consultants, training, mentoring and networking opportunities.
Taiwanese funds also provide support for business matching opportunities between Croatian and Taiwanese businesses. The next business matching trip for Croatian female entrepreneurs, planned for 2017, will comprise up to 20 Croatian businesswomen from various sectors who will have the chance to meet Taiwanese counterparts, build networks and attend specialised training sessions.
The first phase of the programme in Croatia was launched in March 2015. To date, a total of €15 million has been provided to the two current partner financial institutions Privredna Banka Zagreb d.d. and Raiffeisenbank Austria d.d. Zagreb for on-lending to women-led SMEs, with another partner bank expected to join the programme by the end of this year. To date, almost 300 women entrepreneurs have been supported by the programme.
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.
The EBRD’s Women in Business programmes are currently active in 16 countries and have so far committed over €500 million of financing to women-led SMEs, supported by over €60 million of donor funding to enable more than 10,000 women to access finance and advice to grow their businesses.
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.