EBRD Youth in Business programme launches in Kosovo

By Svitlana  Pyrkalo
@pyrkalo

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  • EBRD launches WB Youth in Business programme, combining finance and advice
  • First €4.5 million to Kosovo’s Banka për Biznes to on-lend to young entrepreneurs
  • Sweden to provide donor support for programme’s regional roll-out

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is launching its new Western Balkans Youth in Business programme with a project in Kosovo, making it the first country to benefit from this dedicated credit line for young entrepreneurs under the age of 35.

A €4.5 million loan will be provided to Banka për Biznes in Kosovo, which will on-lend the funds to local companies that are owned or managed by young entrepreneurs, and which are likely to be early-stage or micro companies and second generation businesses.

Banka për Biznes already provides other types of financing to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in cooperation with the EBRD.

The EBRD’s Western Balkans Youth in Business programme envisages providing a total of €100 million to local banks in the six countries of the region. Alongside finance, the EBRD will provide advisory services in the form of consultants, e-learning and training, all with a view to fostering youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion in the region. 

The government of Sweden is supporting the programme with a €3.5 million grant to help local partner banks increase their capacity and develop new financial products for young entrepreneurs, and to assist eligible small firms in strengthening their operations and bringing their businesses to the next level.

The EBRD loan will be boosted by a €450,000 first-loss risk cover from the Shareholder Special Fund, the EBRD’s multi-donor fund.

The loan was signed in Prishtina by Mark Bowman, EBRD Vice President for Policy and Partnerships: “We are very pleased to work once again with our long-standing partner Banka për Biznes, this time supporting Kosovo’s dynamic young entrepreneurs. Kosovo needs to create more opportunities at home for its educated young workforce. Providing better access to finance and advice for its young entrepreneurs will help retain talent and boost the economy.”

Artan Sadiku, Acting CEO of Banka për Biznes, said: “BPB is privileged to have reached an exclusivity agreement with the EBRD to introduce the Youth in Business Programme in Kosovo. Our long-term partnership with the EBRD has resulted in yet another project, this time aimed at increasing entrepreneurship in Kosovo while supporting young owners of micro and small enterprises. The programme is in line with BPB’s strategy, especially our dedication to provide non-financial services to the MSME sector. We believe that our wholesome approach towards this sector – that is, providing not only financing but also training and other non-financial services – will ensure long and trusted relationships with our clients.”

Banka për Biznes, the seventh-largest bank in Kosovo, was founded in 2001 and offers a wide range of commercial banking products, with a focus on micro-companies and SMEs. The EBRD holds a 10 per cent share in BPB.

The EBRD has, to date, invested more than €625 million in Kosovo. The Bank’s strategic priorities in the country are to promote the green economy, support the competitive development of the private sector and foster regional integration.

Previously, the Bank’s Youth in Business programme was launched in North Africa with an earmarked US$ 140 million package in Egypt and a €100 million package in Morocco, also combining lending and advice.

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