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EBRD Youth in Business programme launches in Montenegro

By Joel Cela

  • Alter Modus to receive a loan of €3 million to on-lend to entrepreneurs under the age of 35
  • Sweden and Italy to extend grants to help increase the capacity of financial institutions and youth entrepreneurs
  • Western Balkans Youth in Business programme is already operational in Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is launching its Youth in Business Programme in Montenegro. It will support young entrepreneurs with loans through partner financial institutions, as well as advisory services.

Montenegrin microfinance institution Alter Modus will receive a €3 million loan for on-lending to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) owned or managed by entrepreneurs under the age of 35.

The project aligns with Alter Modus’ mission to improve access to finance for excluded categories of the Montenegrin population and will be enhanced by the Youth in Business programme, which will help to alleviate inclusion gaps for MSMEs trying to gain access to finance.

The EBRD’s Western Balkans Youth in Business programme expects to provide a total of €100 million to local banks in the region’s six countries over the coming years. In addition to finance, the Bank will provide advisory services in the form of consultancy projects, e-learning and training, all with a view to fostering youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. 

The governments of Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and Italy, through the Central European Initiative, are supporting the programme with grant funding to help local financial institutions increase their capacity and develop new financial products for young entrepreneurs, as well as to assist eligible youth firms in strengthening their operations and bringing their businesses to the next level.

Remon Zakaria, EBRD Head of Montenegro, said at the signing of the loan agreement in Podgorica: “We are excited to launch the Youth in Business programme in Montenegro with our long-standing partner, Alter Modus, which will have the opportunity to establish its own unique business model. Empowering youth entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for them will help Montenegro boost its economy and inspire the younger generations to contribute to their country. Through this programme, we aim to provide better access to finance and advice to help nurture this talent with a product tailored to their needs.”

Ana Kentera, Chief Executive Officer of Alter Modus, said: “It is very important that youth in business are supported financially at the right time and in the proper way. Financial support is essential to the development of youth entrepreneurship, not only in a material way, but to encourage young people and let them know that there are institutions such as the EBRD and Alter Modus that believe in them and their potential. We are honoured that we are recognised by the EBRD as a strategic implementing partner for such a programme. The Youth in Business programme will help us to achieve our goals and implement our mission.”

Alter Modus, established in 1997, has been an EBRD client since 2004 and a leading microfinance institution in Montenegro, with a market share of 67 per cent by total assets.

With this loan, Montenegro becomes the fourth country in the Western Balkans to join the Youth in Business Programme, after Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Similar credit lines have already been successfully rolled out in Egypt and Morocco.

The EBRD has to date invested more than €708 million in Montenegro. Its primary areas of focus in the country are on enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector, deepening Montenegro’s Green Economy Transition and supporting further connectivity and regional integration.

The EBRD also provides advisory services to small businesses in Montenegro, with regular training sessions and events for a broad range of MSMEs, from venture capital to agribusiness.

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