- Loan of up to €20 million to Interex, one of Kosovo’s largest retail chains
- EBRD- and EU-supported Enterprise Expansion Fund II (ENEF II) to co-finance the loan
- ENEF II achieves first closing at €57 million
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Thursday approved a financing package of up to €20 million to Proex Shp, one of Kosovo’s largest retail chains, which operates 34 Interex-branded stores across the country.
Part of the financing will be provided by the Enterprise Expansion Fund II Western Balkans (ENEF II), which, a few days prior to signing, achieved its first closing after raising €57 million in capital commitments.
The loan agreement was signed at the EBRD Headquarters in London by EBRD Managing Director for SME Finance and Development Claudio Viezzoli, who is also a board member of ENEF II, EBRD Director for Agribusiness Natalia Zhukova and Proex Managing Director Ylber Kuraja.
The loan will help the chain to expand into areas currently not served by sufficient modern retail outlets and facilitate more efficient processes and equipment. It will also enable the construction of a modern logistics centre near the Kosovan capital, Pristina.
Natalia Zhukova said: “We are pleased to continue supporting modern retail in Kosovo by signing the financing agreement for this project. Modern retail is not only about a better shopping experience, for which local demand is growing. It can also be a powerful driver of the real economy through value chains, supporting local micro, small and medium-sized suppliers, creating jobs and innovation, such as modern logistics.”
Ylber Kuraja added: “We are grateful to the EBRD and ENEF II for hosting this signing ceremony. This agreement is not only an endorsement of our business model and future plans, but also an acknowledgment of the contribution of the retail sector to the development of Kosovo and its importance to the value chain.”
The loan will support Proex’s capital investment plans, which include the addition of six new stores, five of which will be in municipalities outside Pristina, the modernisation of seven existing stores, and the construction of a new logistics centre.
Technical cooperation under the project will include the implementation of sustainability features in accordance with BREEAM Green Building principles and be supported by ENEF II and the resource efficiency-oriented DRIVE fund established by Austria. The company will also invest in upgrading its environmental, health and safety standards in accordance with the project’s environmental and social action plan and offer a leadership development programme for female employees.
Signing on behalf of ENEF II as the fund’s board member, Claudio Viezzoli said: “Today is an important day as we mark the first joint project between the EBRD and the new ENEF II fund. ENEF II was created to widen the financing offering to local private companies in the Western Balkans, with a particular emphasis on embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. We are very pleased that Interex is the first investment in the new fund’s portfolio and look forward to supporting other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the region on their ESG and growth journeys.”
ENEF II is a new investment fund that was established with European Union (EU) support. It is advised and managed by the EBRD. Dedicated to SMEs and mid-caps in the Western Balkans, ENEF II has raised €57 million in capital commitments from its investors, which include the EU, Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti development bank and Germany’s KfW development bank. The EBRD has committed €19 million to the fund, while KfW and the EU will also provide first-loss risk cover.
The first closing of ENEF II marks a key milestone, underscoring the strong cooperation between development finance institutions and the EU in supporting the sustainable growth of local companies in the Western Balkans. The fund is targeting commitments of up to €75 million, aiming to attract additional investors over the next 12 months, and will invest €0.5 million to €8.0 million in 15-25 companies in various sectors.
ENEF II, which is part of the EU’s Western Balkans Investment Framework, extends development and expansion capital to local, high-growth companies committed to improving their ESG performance in the six Western Balkans economies. Its predecessor fund, ENEF, was launched in 2011.
The EBRD invested €91 million in Kosovo in 2022.