Small businesses (SMEs)

The EBRD’s Small Business Initiative

We have launched the Small Business Initiative, a strategic initiative integrating the tools the EBRD offers to support small enterprises. We provide loans and investments through financial institutions and risk-sharing facilities, and we finance small businesses directly. But we don’t stop there.

Our support for SMEs stretches over several priority areas. We provide small enterprises with advice to help them innovate and grow and we work with policy-makers to create an environment where they can succeed.

To classify a company as an SME, we look at a combination of turnover, employees and total assets. Typically, an SME is considered as a company with turnover of under €50 million (or a balance sheet of under €43 million), with between 10 and 250 employees (exceptionally up to 500 employees)

From financiers to engineers, lawyers and industry experts, our unique mix of skills and expertise comes together to offer solutions that really meet the needs of small businesses.

Through the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative (SBI) we help small and medium-sized enterprises get the finance and advice they need to grow.

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What we offer

Access to finance remains one of the key challenges facing SMEs across our region. But it is not the only challenge. The Small Business Initiative draws on the experience of the EBRD, gained from over two decades of working with thousands of small businesses.

A fifth of the EBRD’s annual investment and almost half its banking projects each year are directed at such enterprises. This results in a meaningful impact on individual companies and local business environments as a whole. We have helped more than 16,000 small businesses access advisory services – nearly 2,000 a year – while our financing through partner banks has reached hundreds of thousands more. This means that €1.24 billion is channelled to over 200,000 small businesses each year.

We also understand that most small businesses sell their goods and services locally. So we work with our partners to lend in local currencies, reducing the exposure of firms and the wider financial sector to foreign exchange risk.

We can now lend in over 21 currencies including Georgia’s lari, Mongolia’s tugrik and Tajikistan’s somoni. Thanks to our strong presence on the ground, in more than 27 countries from Morocco to Mongolia, we have built a wealth of knowledge and experience with small enterprises.

We bring this experience to bear, through a country-focused approach, developing new products and approaches that really work.

“SMEs matter for economic development,” our President, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, said recently. “There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit across our region but much remains to be done to foster that spirit.

“Supporting small business is at the heart of the EBRD’s mandate, and through the Small Business Initiative we can and will do more.”