- EBRD steps up digital transition to benefit small businesses across 30 economies
- Majority of the mentoring and training for consultants and entrepreneurs focused on Covid-19 response
- Donor funding was crucial in making this shift possible
More than 15,000 business professionals in countries where the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invests have participated in trainings and business mentoring sessions that were delivered by the Bank online in 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and triggered changes in the way the EBRD provides its support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Bank made a rapid adjustment to deliver services aimed at skills development for small business owners, employees and consultants using digital infrastructure.
Examples include: the Know How Academy, a free-to-use online learning and advice hub to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises confronted with the economic impact of the pandemic; Merezha, a digital platform allowing Ukrainian SMEs instant access to registered experts, case studies and the useful data necessary for their planning and development activity; and online mentoring sessions for Turkish companies participating in the flagship Women in Business programme focusing on leadership, business management and experience-sharing in times of crisis.
“We believe that in this ever-changing reality, it is vital to help businesses to learn and adapt as quickly as possible. This is why we rapidly revolutionised the way we provide training and mentoring for SMEs and consultants by rolling out our services online during the Covid-19 crisis,” said Claudio Viezzoli, EBRD Managing Director for SME Finance and Development Group.
Digital transition is among the top priorities set out in the EBRD’s new five-year strategy. By unleashing the power of technology, the Bank aims to promote inclusion, integration and resilience of businesses across the 30 economies where it runs SME-focused programmes.
Donor funding has been crucial for the digital transition. Donors include: the European Union (also through its European Investment Advisory Hub, Horizon 2020 and Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility), Greece, Kazakhstan, Shell, the EBRD’s Small Business Impact Fund (Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and Taipei China), Sweden, Tengizchevroil and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.
The training and mentoring sessions complemented other regular activities under the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative, including business advisory projects, financial support, policy dialogue contributions and information dissemination.
To date, the EBRD has helped more than 30,000 small businesses access advisory services while our financing through partner banks has reached hundreds of thousands more. Over €1 billion of finance is channelled to more than 300,000 small businesses each year.