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EBRD and EU step up support for small businesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By Bojana Vlajcic

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  • Loan of up to €5 million to UniCredit Bank a.d. Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Financing to help SMEs to boost competitiveness and meet EU standards
  • Added EU-funded cashback incentive for SMEs worth 15 per cent of the loan amount

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is extending a loan of up to €5 million to UniCredit Bank a.d. Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve access to finance for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The loan is being provided under the Bank’s SME Competitiveness Programme, through which local SMEs can access well-structured finance, as well as incentive grants worth up to 15 per cent of their loan amount, making their investments more affordable.

Participating small businesses will also be offered technical assistance to help prepare and implement their investments. The grants and technical assistance are being financed by the European Union (EU).

UniCredit Bank a.d. Banja Luka will lend the funds to SMEs for investment purposes, so that they can upgrade their production facilities to make them compatible with EU standards in areas such as environmental protection, worker safety and product quality. At least 60 per cent of the loans will go to investments that support the green transition.

The financing will increase the competitiveness of local enterprises and give them greater opportunities to succeed on the domestic, regional and international markets.  

UniCredit Bank a.d. Banja Luka is one of the largest banks in the Republika Srpska, one of the two entities constituting Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bank has 36 branches spanning almost all major cities and towns and 435 employees. It became an EBRD partner in December 2014. This is the third credit line the EBRD has extended to UniCredit Bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the programme.

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 Unicredit Bank a.d. Banja Luka. Overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic means that businesses need to start investing again and this credit line will support local SMEs in making these investments and rebuild the economy stronger, more resilient, greener and more competitive.”

Gordan Pehar, President of the Management Board of UniCredit Bank a.d. Banja Luka, said: “We are very pleased to confirm in this way our long-term cooperation with the EBRD, which has once again recognized us as a strategic partner in the local market. Since the beginning of our cooperation, we have secured €37 million through various favourable credit lines to support our clients and the community. The additional funding of €5 million will allow us to continue providing support to the local economy and developing the competitiveness and potential of local businesses. We constantly strive to do the best for our clients and the community.”

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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