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EBRD and EU scale up small business support in Eastern Partnership countries

By EBRD  Press Office

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EBRD and EU foster hazelnut production in Georgia

  • EBRD and EU continue support for businesses in Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries
  • €5 million in EU grant funding for EBRD’s advisory services
  • Supporting companies to go digital, become more resilient and competitive

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are scaling up their support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine (EaP) amid a severe economic downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic

Backed by €5 million in EU grant funding, the EBRD’s advisory services aim to address the needs of SMEs and foster their growth by engaging with local and international consultants.

A new programme will support companies in adopting digital technologies for uninterrupted operations, boosting their competitiveness and export potential, increasing their chances of accessing the finances needed to grow. The programme is a continuation of a larger EBRD-EU effort to unlock SMEs’ growth in EaP countries through business advice and international expertise. Over the next three years, more than 250 SMEs are expected to receive such advisory services.

Ines Rocha, EBRD Director, SME Finance and Development, said: “The EBRD is committed to supporting SMEs in these trying times. Together with the EU – our key institutional partner – we continue our efforts to help companies weather the storm and bounce back stronger. The key focus will be on fostering SMEs’ uptake of digital tools to address challenges they face and deliver long-term growth.’’

Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East and Institution Building, European Commission, stated: “Advisory services, in particular in support of digitalisation, are an essential element for SMEs to be able to overcome the current crisis and make use of their growth potential after the pandemic. As part of its Team Europe response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission mobilised an emergency support package for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It included a new €100 million support programme to help SMEs and a facilitation, acceleration and adaptation of €200 million of existing credit lines and grants to SMEs in local currency through the EU4Business Initiative.”

The EBRD is delivering its support with Team Europe to help SMEs withstand and recover from the severe economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. To date, the Bank has invested close to €28 billion in the six countries through more than 1,300 projects.

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