Joint outreach with EU4Business Initiative to support local SMEs
Strengthening and deepening its outreach in Ukraine, the EBRD has opened a new regional office in the southern city of Odessa, the country’s naval gateway on the shores of the Black Sea and one of its most important industrial centres.
The Odessa office is the EBRD’s third representation outside the capital, Kiev, and will serve as a hub for the southern regions of Ukraine. The operational expansion is supported by the European Union (EU) through the EU4Business Initiative.
Southern Ukraine has always played an important role in EBRD operations in the country, especially in sectors such as agribusiness, logistics, transport and infrastructure. The new office will allow the EBRD to work closer to local clients and will offer access to expert advice for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Francis Malige, EBRD Managing Director, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, said: “The opening of our fourth branch after Kiev, Lviv and Kharkiv sends a strong message to the market as well as to domestic and foreign investors. Our commitment to Ukraine is also expressed in the provision of additional financial and human resources for the support of grass-roots businesses. We are confident that our new office will contribute to the development of small businesses in the Odessa region and across the south of Ukraine. What we are doing today would not have been possible without successful reforms, which have taken place in the last couple of years, for which we salute the government.”
The EBRD, together with its strategic partner the EU, also supports operations of 15 business support centres across Ukraine, one of which is also located in Odessa. These centres aim to raise awareness among local SMEs about the opportunities available under the EU4Business Initiative and will serve as main contact points for small enterprises throughout Ukraine. This is in line with the Delegation Agreement signed between the EU and the EBRD on 20 May 2016 on providing support to SMEs, including the creation of a network of business support centres across Ukraine.
Ambassador Hugues Mingarelli, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, said: “We are coming closer to businesses in the regions. Opening a regional EBRD office in a business hub like Odesa is a logical choice and we are pleased to support this through the EU4Business initiative. The EBRD is our strategic partner, which will support the Ukrainian SMEs by providing them with expert advice on how to access the EU market as well as lending directly to them to meet for their growth needs. I am confident that soon we will also be able to enjoy very concrete results of this cooperation in southern Ukraine.”
The EBRD is the largest international financial investor in Ukraine. To date, the Bank has made a cumulative commitment of almost €12.2 billion through 377 projects since the start of its operations in the country in 1993.
The EU4Business Initiative aims to support private sector development in Ukraine by equipping SMEs with new skills and supporting their ambitions to export to the largest neighbouring market, as well as providing financing for SMEs. In parallel to that, the EU-funded Initiative supports the government in the deregulation process in order to improve the business climate.
On 20 May, 2016 an agreement worth €40 million was signed by the EU and the EBRD under the EU4Business Initiative to provide up to €28 million for business advice, information, training and other support to SMEs in Ukraine. The assistance includes the creation of a network of business support centres across Ukraine and also envisages that up to €12 million of EU4Business funds will be used to support the EBRD’s direct financing of smaller enterprises.