Italian bank pioneers support of female entrepreneurs in Albania
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Intesa Sanpaolo Banka Albania sh.a (ISBA) held a seminar for women in business in Tirana to promote the participation of female entrepreneurs in the economy.
The EBRD launched its Women in Business programme in Albania last December and ISBA became the first bank in the country to join the framework when it received a €2 million loan. Under the framework, participating banks will on-lend finance to local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) established or led by women. In addition, the programme also offers advice, mentoring and coaching to help women entrepreneurs access know-how that is vital to their growth.
The seminar in Tirana, the first of a series to be held around Albania in coming months, brought together over 100 female entrepreneurs and key supporting stakeholders including the Director of the Directory for Supporting Entrepreneurship in the Ministry of Economy, Mr. Bashkim Sykja, Italian Development Cooperation representative, Mr. Andrea Senatori, Swedish Embassy representatives and various organizations that support women-led businesses.
The event focused on the importance of financial management for business growth and launched Business Lens, the EBRD’s online self-diagnostic tool for women entrepreneurs, which helps women identify the strengths of their business and opportunities for further development.
Christoph Denk, EBRD Director for Albania, said: “Our Women in Business programme helps address the challenges female entrepreneurs face when running a business such as access to finance or technical expertise. Women entrepreneurs are a great potential driver of business activity and empowering women also helps build an inclusive society, which is key to achieving sustainable economic growth.”
Silvio Pedrazzi, CEO of ISBA, added: “Women play an ever-increasing positive role in the economic growth of Albania, managing multiple roles in our society and doing them very well. This is why together with the EBRD we have created special packages combining finance and advice so that these extraordinary women can continue their successful path with a friend at their side.”
The EBRD’s Women in Business programme is focused on improving access to finance and advice for women-led SMEs. Credit lines are extended to partner banks for on-lending. Advisory services are offered alongside mentoring and longer-term coaching to provide female entrepreneurs with the knowledge and confidence to take the next step. The programme is jointly supported by the governments of Italy, Sweden and Luxembourg and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund.
Since the start of its operations in Albania, the EBRD has invested almost €1 billion in some 70 projects in various sectors of the country's economy.
Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Albania ranks 3rd in terms of assets in the Albanian Banking System, being present with 32 branches in 12 cities and serving to approximately 165,000 customers.