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Advisory support to boost small businesses in Bulgaria

By Olga Rosca

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Advisory support to boost small businesses in Bulgaria

EBRD, European Investment Advisory Hub and European Union launch programme in Bulgaria to help businesses obtain advice

The European Investment Advisory Hub, the EBRD and the European Union (EU) launched today, in Sofia, a new programme to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) obtain advice for sustainable growth. This initiative is part of the Investment Plan for Europe, which focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.

The new support to Bulgaria’s small businesses is part of a larger joint effort to provide SMEs in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania with tailored business advice over a three-year period. The programme is provided within the context of the European Investment Advisory Hub, a joint initiative of the European Commission (EC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), and funded by the European Union and the EBRD.

Under the programme, over 70 Bulgarian businesses will get access to modern, local and international consultancy services in a wide range of areas such as strategy, trade and export promotion, financial management, resource efficiency and marketing.

Majority locally owned businesses, with a turnover of less than €50 million and fewer than 250 employees can apply for support. Working closely with the EBRD, a company’s first step under the programme is to assess its needs and growth opportunities. The EBRD then connects the firm to a specialised consultant or international adviser who can offer the relevant expertise. The programme also provides training opportunities for businesses and consultants, equipping them with the skills to take their companies further.

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Sometimes a start-up or small company has a great investment proposal but it needs help to navigate financial management, business strategy or marketing in order to get the project off the ground. With this new programme launched today, small businesses in Bulgaria will have access to tailor-made, local, technical support, which is a major emphasis of the extended and reinforced European Fund for Strategic Investments. I wish all the small businesses the best of luck with their projects.”

Simon Barnes, Head of Advisory Services, EIB, said: “We are particularly pleased to launch this programme in cooperation with the EBRD in the context of the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH). EIAH is a joint EC and EIB initiative and an integral part of the second pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, and provides advisory services for investment projects in the EU. A particular aim of the EIAH is to develop a network of partners, at both local and international level, to offer complementary services by institutions that are best placed and equipped to do so. The cooperation with the EBRD reflects this approach and represents a significant step in meeting unsatisfied demand for advisory support in the SME sector.”

Larisa Manastirli, EBRD Head for Bulgaria, commented: “Professional business advisory services and expertise play a vital role in helping businesses to improve operations, become more competitive and succeed at home and internationally. We are very pleased to be supporting the SME sector in Bulgaria to access advisory services and we remain open to collaboration with all interested institutions. We are very proud to partner in this initiative in Bulgaria with the European Union and the European Investment Advisory Hub, which will strengthen our joint impact on the ground.”

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