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Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF)

By EBRD  Press Office

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A novel and comprehensive set of complementary measures for improving access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and helping economic development in the Western Balkans, is to be launched on 5 December 2012.

The Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) is to promote the emergence and growth of innovative and high-potential companies, as well as the creation of a regional venture capital market. The €145 million of initial capital pulled together under this Facility by the EU, international financial institutions (IFIs), beneficiaries and bilateral donors will effectively translate into over €300 million of direct financing for SMEs in the region.

The Facility will be coordinated by the European Investment Fund and implemented in close cooperation between the governments of the Western Balkans, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. IFIs, international organisations and bilateral donors active in the region, such as Italy, the World Bank, DEG, OECD and others are invited to participate in order to streamline the efforts to develop the private sector in the Western Balkans.

WB EDIF will include four components aiming at:

- early to development stage equity financing in innovative SMEs; this will be done by a newly created Enterprise Innovation Fund (ENIF);

- provision of development and expansion capital to established high-growth potential SMEs; this will be done by a newly created Enterprise Expansion Fund (ENEF);

- improvement of SME’s access to bank lending and lowering the cost of borrowing, by providing SME loan portfolio guarantees to financial intermediaries; this will be done under a regional Guarantee Facility;

- creation of a favourable regulatory environment for innovative and high-potential SMEs; this will be done through a Technical Assistance Facility supporting beneficiary governments in implementation of priority reforms.

This is the first regional initiative in the private sector development area channelled through the Western Balkan Investment Framework. It will be launched back-to-back with the seventh WBIF Steering Committee meeting hosted by the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) in Paris.

About WBIF: WBIF supports socio-economic development and EU accession across the Western Balkans through the provision of finance and technical assistance for strategic investments, particularly in infrastructure, energy efficiency and private sector development. It is a joint initiative of the EU, International Financial Institutions, bilateral donors and governments of the Western Balkans.

About EIB: The EIB is the European Union’s bank. As the largest multilateral borrower and lender, EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects, mostly in the EU. EIB is owned by the 27 EU Member States and the projects it supports contribute to furthering EU policy objectives.

About EIF: EIF's central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) by helping them to access finance.  EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital and guarantee instruments which specifically target this market segment. EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

About EBRD: EBRD, owned by 63 countries and two intergovernmental institutions, supports the development of market economies and democracies in countries from central and eastern Europe to central Asia and southern and eastern Mediterranean. It supports SMEs through financing and advisory support.

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