Unlocking the potential of SMEs in Kosovo

By Bojana Vlajcic

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  • Funds will help SMEs invest in production capacities and quality
  • Companies to increase competitiveness on regional and EU markets
  • SMEs will also receive grants funded from the EU IPA, managed by the EUO/EUSR Kosovo

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Kosovo can now benefit from a new EBRD-EU programme to enhance their competitiveness.

The programme, which was presented in Pristina today, will help boost SMEs both in the country and regionally, as well as in the EU market, through a package of loans, incentive grants and technical assistance.

€25 million has been allocated to two partner commercial banks, Bank per Biznes and Procredit Bank Kosovo, which will be coupled with a dedicated package of technical assistance and incentive grants in excess of €5 million from the EU national Instrument for pre-Accession funding (IPA).

SMEs can use the funds to improve their production capacities and processes, as well as product quality through the introduction of EU environmental protection, safety and quality standards.

Kosovo’s SMEs represent a remarkable 99.8 per cent of registered enterprises and generate close to 75 per cent of employment in the country.

However despite their dominant position in the economy of Kosovo, local small businesses often suffer from a lack of competitiveness and access to finance and their contribution to export is only around 5-6 per cent.

Neil Taylor, EBRD Head for Kosovo said: “We are confident that this programme will improve small businesses’ access to much needed finance. A combination of funding and dedicated advisory will provide an impulse to further improve their performance. We have seen how successful this programme is in other countries and we are pleased to support SMEs in Kosovo as well.”

Luigi Brusa, Head of Cooperation Section, EUO/EUSR Kosovo said:  "Today is a big day for Kosovo businesses! To meet the challenges on the European single market, Kosovo businesses will enjoy access to affordable credit that they can use for investment into new technologies and capacity improvements. As a result of the programme, Kosovar enterprises will enhance their production capacities, introduce new products, and expand their competitiveness in regional, European, and international markets. I am looking forward to see success stories of Kosovo businesses benefiting from this programme”.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Endrit Shala, said: “The Ministry of Trade and Industry focuses on supporting local producers, those enterprises that have the potential to increase exports, replace imports and improve the trade balance of the Republic of Kosovo. We are also giving special importance to companies to create as many new jobs as possible, and advance European standards and their implementation in local companies. We are grateful to the European Union for the assistance and to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development that continues to provide support to the MTI and the Government of the Republic of Kosovo.”

The EBRD began investing in Kosovo in 1999. To date, the Bank has signed 63 projects in the country with a net cumulative business volume of €366 million. Kosovo became an EBRD member and country of operations in December 2012.

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