EBRD and EU provide further support for SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By Bojana Vlajcic

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  • Loan of up to €5 million to Sparkasse Bank, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Local SMEs will be able to boost competitiveness and meet EU standards
  • Donor support from European Union

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is extending a loan of up to €5 million to Sparkasse Bank d.d. in Bosnia and Herzegovina to boost the competitiveness of small local businesses.

The loan to Sparkasse Bank is being provided under the SME Competitiveness Support Programme, a joint initiative by the EBRD and the European Union (EU). The loan will be secured by international sovereign bonds, the first time the EBRD has used such a financing structure in a project with a commercial bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

Sparkasse will on-lend the EBRD funds to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for investments that will improve their competitiveness and compliance with EU technical standards, for example, with regard to energy efficiency, renewable energy, water efficiency, waste minimisation, recycling and improvements in health and safety standards, At least 60 per cent of the loans will go to support the green transition.

The SME Competitiveness Support Programme combines loan and grant financing, offering EU-funded grant incentives worth up to 15 per cent of the total loan amount for the successful implementation of investments. This will make local enterprises more competitive and improve their chances of succeeding on domestic, regional and international markets.

Sparkasse Bank manages total assets of BAM 1.84 billion (€943 million) and has more than 500 employees in 38 branches throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bank services private individuals, SMEs, large companies, institutional clients and the public sector. It is owned by Austria’s Steiermarkische Bank und Sparkassen AG.

Manuela Naessl, EBRD Head of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “We are very pleased to sign this loan agreement today and support the strengthening of the real economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina together with our long-standing partner, Sparkasse Bank. Overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic requires businesses to start investing again and this credit line will support local SMEs in making those investments and rebuilding the economy to be stronger, more resilient, greener and more competitive.”

Amir Softić, CEO of Sparkasse Bank, said: “Increasing the competitiveness of the SME segment and creating new jobs are strategic goals of Sparkasse Bank. Our mission is to support the development of the local economy and assist companies that create added value for society. I am, therefore, very glad that, even in these difficult times, together with our partner the EBRD, we stand firm in supporting SMEs by helping to align their business models with EU standards and requirements. Synergies between the EBRD and Sparkasse Bank will help companies become key generators of new employment and sustainable development in their local communities.” 

Since it began operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996, the EBRD has invested more than €2.7 billion in 190 projects across the country.

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