The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) are stepping up their support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Serbia. A new €10 million credit line to Intesa Leasing will support these companies during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
It will help SMEs in Serbia to invest in upgrading their equipment and production processes to EU standards, in particular for product quality and safety, environmental protection, as well as workers’ health and safety. This support comes at a crucial time, as access to finance is limited and local businesses are particularly vulnerable in the current circumstances.
The loan is part of a wider EBRD/EU programme to boost SME competitiveness across the Western Balkans. While the EBRD and its financial partners help businesses to finance more modern production processes, the EU is providing funds to identify the most suitable equipment and processes as well as for incentive payments for successfully finished projects. In Serbia, the programme is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of the Economy.
The EBRD and the EU through Team Europe support SMEs to mitigate the social and economic consequences resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Intesa Leasing is part of Intesa Sanpaolo Group and one of the major leasing operators in Serbia, with major activities in the vehicles, equipment, and real estate sectors.
Zsuzsanna Hargitai, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans, said: “We are strongly committed to supporting businesses and the economy in Serbia during these challenging times. Our new financial package will build more competitive companies, bring higher quality products to the local market, and open up new cross-border trade opportunities for local SMEs. It is a result of our excellent cooperation with our institutional partners, such as the EU, and financial partners on the ground.”
The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi pointed out: “Access to finance is often one of the main obstacles for the development of small businesses, and COVID-19 made it even more difficult. The European Union and the EBRD – as Team Europe – have decided to join forces to support the economic recovery providing tailor-made help to Serbia’s SMEs. A new €10 million credit line has been launched to make Serbian businesses more resilient and more competitive in regional and global markets. This joint initiative offers a complete package: advisory services, very competitive loans from the EBRD, and on top of that the European Union donates to Serbian SMEs up to 15 percent of the total loan amount, covering investments that SMEs will make in industrial premises, equipment, software, improvement of management systems and general upgrading."
Goran Knežević, Minister of the Economy of Serbia, noted: “On the proposal of the Ministry of Economy, the European Union has approved an additional €10 million from the Pre-accession (IPA) funds for the SME Competitiveness Support Programme in Serbia, which is already being implemented in the region. We are pleased that a new financial institution is accessing the Programme, which will encourage entrepreneurs to continue investing in modern equipment that is in line with EU standards and thus become more competitive. This support will mean more finance for small and medium enterprises, which will contribute to a better standard of living, which is our main task.”
Darko Popović, President of the Management Board of Intesa Leasing in Serbia, stated: “By signing this fourth credit line, we continue our successful cooperation with the EBRD, especially in this challenging period for the SME sector, the most exposed to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. I am convinced that with this credit line of €10 million, we will offer small and medium-sized enterprises easier access to financial resources for the purchase of construction, agricultural and production equipment, and commercial vehicles in order to improve their competitiveness. Intesa Leasing and EBRD have supported the economy with €55 million through three credit lines already.”
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Serbia. The Bank has invested more than €6 billion across 267 projects in the country to date. The EBRD is focusing on support for private-sector development, improvement of public utility services, and the overall transition towards a green economy.