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EBRD and Banca Intesa Beograd expand access to finance for businesswomen

By Olga Rosca

€8 million to be lent to Serbian SMEs run by female entrepreneurs

  • EBRD €8 million loan to support women entrepreneurs amid coronavirus crisis
  • Banca Intesa Beograd a key promoter of greater economic opportunities for women in Serbia
  • Growing demand for finance by businesses following Covid-19

Women-led businesses in Serbia will benefit from a new €8 million loan by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to Banca Intesa Beograd for on-lending to local small and medium-sized enterprises led by women.

The new loan will help Banca Intesa Beograd meet the growing demand by clients following the coronavirus crisis and will further support access to finance for female entrepreneurs.

This is the fourth time the EBRD provides finance to the Serbian lender under its flagship Women in Business programme. The initiative is supported by donor funds from Sweden and Luxembourg.

A leading bank in Serbia, Banca Intesa Beograd is a key promoter of women’s participation in the economy. To date, the bank has on-lent around €15 million in loans to women-led enterprises.

Zsuzsanna Hargitai, EBRD Regional Director, Western Balkans and Head of Serbia, said: “Today we are again joining forces with our longstanding partner Banca Intesa Beograd to support women-led businesses in Serbia. This is an important step forward in our effort to support women’s economic inclusion in the country.”

Draginja Djuric, President of the Executive Board, Banca Intesa, said: "Banca Intesa, in cooperation with the EBRD, continues to strengthen economic potential of female entrepreneurship, acknowledging its importance for sustainable development of the domestic economy. As the first bank that started the implementation of the EBRD Women in Business program in Serbia, we have supported over 1,500 female-led initiatives so far, helping female entrepreneurs advance their business and realize their development ambitions. In the circumstances when the entire global economy feels negative consequences of the pandemic, vulnerable segments of the economy are particularly susceptible to the crisis, which why it is necessary to provide them with easier access to finance at this moment as well, contributing to the preservation of jobs and overall economic recovery of our country."

The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Serbia. The Bank has invested more than €6.0 billion across 267 projects in the country to date. The EBRD is focusing on support for private-sector development, improvement of public utility services and on the overall transition towards a green economy.

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