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EBRD and EU help grow businesses in Armenia

By Nina Tsintsadze

More than 70 small and medium-sized  enterprises (SMEs) in Armenia have already invested in greener technology and boosted their competitiveness thanks to a joint financing programme of the EBRD and the European Union (EU).

The EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line, active in Armenia since 2021, targets companies that wish to replace old technology with more energy efficient updates, enhance product quality and boost competitiveness at home and abroad.

The programme offers EBRD loans along with EU grant incentives, which target small firms through local financial institutions. A total of €14.5 million in loans was extended to small businesses for 89 investment projects over the past two years. Currently five Armenian commercial banks are involved in the programme.

Upon successful investment, companies in sectors ranging from manufacturing to agriculture, and from food and beverages to medical services, receive up to 15 per cent cashback financed by the EU under its EU4Business initiative.

Let us meet some of them

Yerevan Chocolate Company tells a delicious story. With decades of experience in the chocolate-making business, the company makes the lives of local and international customers in around 20 countries that much sweeter. When entering their premises, one finds it difficult to resist their large selection of chocolate truffles, bars and other confectionary.

Given the rapid pace of technological change in the chocolate industry, the company has decided to invest in new equipment through Armswissbank, which allowed them to rigorously follow EU standard food safety requirements to ensure chocolate making is several times more efficient and create safe conditions for its workers.

Another beneficiary of the EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line is the dairy company Tamara and Ani, a business that helps customers look after their bone health by producing calcium-rich products, along with ice cream and soft drinks. The company is now looking to make a positive contribution to the environment by investing in solar panels via a loan from Ameriabank for reduced energy bills and a less harmful impact on the environment.

Asedl is one of the largest glass processing manufacturers in the Caucasus, turning houses into cosy homes. But the company goes beyond households: they also provide their windows, doors, partitions, glass floors and much more to businesses amid the construction boom in the country.

With financing from the EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line through Armswissbank, the company has further modernised their production by investing in automotive equipment that minimises human contact with glass, making the production process safer and the final product of the highest quality. With support from the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses and funding from the EU, the company is also introducing the Kaizen business philosophy to improve the efficiency of its production facility.

‘’We are delighted to witness the tangible results of the investments that translate into better products, growth and improved working conditions,” said George Akhalkatsi, Head of the EBRD Yerevan Resident Office, at an event dedicated to presenting progress to date of the programme.

‘’We are continuing our work in close partnership with local commercial banks and the European Union to further boost the competitiveness and economic integration of Armenian SMEs. Our aim is to make local companies greener, and more competitive on local and international markets.’’

”We are excited to be part of this program supporting the green transition and competitiveness of Armenian SMEs. Investing in new and notably green technologies will not only improve the environmental performance of key economic sectors, but will also prepare SMEs to be more resilient and adapt to the transition towards a greener economy. The latter is an area where the EU will do much more in the coming years to support Armenia,” said Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, Head of EU Delegation to Armenia.

Beyond Armenia, the EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line is active in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. So far, over 1,300 SMEs have benefited from this regional programme, and more are due to benefit in the future.

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