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Advisory support to boost small businesses in Greece

By Olga Aristeidou

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Advisory support to boost small businesses in Greece

EBRD, European Investment Advisory Hub and European Union launch programme to help businesses from south-eastern Europe obtain advice

The European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are launching today in Athens a new programme committed to helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) obtain advice for sustainable growth.

This initiative is part of the Investment Plan for Europe which focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.

The programme will support at least 240 SMEs in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania with tailored business advice over the next two years. The services provided will enable enterprises to access local and international consultancy services to improve their competitiveness and take their businesses to the next level. Local businesses in Greece will benefit directly from the programme, which provides expertise across a wide range of areas including strategy, operations, financial management, marketing and international trade promotion.

The programme is operated by the EBRD and supported by EIAH through funding from the EU and complemented by EBRD co-financing.

George Markopouliotis, Head of Representation of the European Commission in Greece, said: "Greece has benefited greatly from the Juncker Plan, which so far is expected to trigger EUR 8.2 billion of investments in the country. But it can benefit even more: the joint SMEs support services venture will provide much needed technical assistance to Greek SMEs so that they can get more investment, improve their competitiveness and create much-needed jobs."

Simon Barnes, Head of Advisory Services, European Investment Bank (EIB), said: “One key factor holding back sustainable economic growth in Greece is the limited availability of specialised SME advisory services. This exciting new initiative will tackle this particular challenge and help companies across Greece to expand, create jobs and reach their full potential. Across Europe, the European Investment Bank and European Commission are working together to unlock new investment and strengthen business activity by making expertise available through targeted advice.  Through this new cooperation in Greece with EBRD, the European Investment Advisory Hub will bring together Greek and international partners to share valuable business experience and help firms across the country to flourish.”

Claudio Viezzoli, EBRD Managing Director for SME Finance and Development, commented: “Adding advisory services to the EBRD’s offering in Greece will further strengthen the impact we are having on the local economy. We see a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in Greece and allowing this to flourish and grow is one of our foremost goals. For this, the services we can offer together with our partners the EIB and EU can make a real difference.”

Businesses with a turnover of less than €50 million and fewer than 250 employees are eligible under the programme provided that they are majority locally owned. Working closely with the EBRD, a company’s first step under the programme is to assess its needs and growth opportunities. The EBRD then connects the firm with a specialised consultant or international adviser who can offer the relevant expertise. The programme also provides training opportunities for businesses and consultants, equipping them with the skills to take their companies further.


Background information

About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan, is one of the European Commission's top priorities. It focuses on boosting investment to create jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the central pillar of the Juncker Plan. It provides a first-loss guarantee, allowing the EIB to invest in more, often riskier, projects. The EFSI is already showing concrete results. As of February 2018, the projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI are expected to mobilise more than €264billion in investments and support around 490,000 SMEs across all 28 Member States.

About the European Investment Advisory Hub

The European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH or the Hub) is one of the elements of the Investment Plan for Europe (IPEU), an initiative by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank that aims to boost investment in strategic projects around Europe to ensure that money reaches the real economy.

The European Investment Advisory Hub offers a single point of entry for advisory services for investment projects in the EU, building on the expertise of the EIB Group, the European Commission, National Promotional Institutions and Member States’ Managing Authorities. The Hub supports projects which may be eligible for financing by the EIB (either under EFSI or otherwise), but the advisory support available under the Hub is not limited to EIB-financed projects.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank is the European Union's bank. The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the EU and is the only bank owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investments in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy.

As the largest multilateral borrower and lender by volume, the EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects which contribute to furthering EU policy objectives. More than 90 per cent of EIB activity is focused on Europe but it also supports the EU's external and development policies.

About the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

The EBRD started investing in Greece on a temporary basis in 2015 to support the country’s economic recovery. The Bank’s priorities there include strengthening private companies and the financial sector, and supporting privatisation, infrastructure development and regional integration of the Greek economy. To date, the EBRD has invested €1,505 million in 30 projects in Greece.

Since 1993 the EBRD has helped over 20,000 small businesses in countries across southern and eastern Europe, North Africa and Central Asia to access advice and successfully transform their business. Within a year of completing an advisory project, 68 per cent of companies working with the EBRD boosted their turnover, with a median increase of 30 per cent, and 56 per cent improved their productivity by a median of 26 per cent, as they expanded their business.

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