Successful small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) help create employment. They increase economic productivity and innovation, which are key elements of competitive, inclusive markets.
In our region, the EBRD and donors have been focusing for decades on boosting this sector. Through the Small Business Initiative, they combine finance and business advice, in parallel with policy dialogue for reforms, so that SMEs can fulfil their economic potential.
In 2016, over €60 million was made available from the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, the Republic of Korea and the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund to support small firms across the region.
The impact of this work is substantial. In 2016 alone, SMEs benefited from over €1.4 billion of EBRD finance. And more than 2,200 small-business entrepreneurs obtained expert advice to overcome specific challenges and become well-governed.
Between 2014 and 2016, over half of the firms that have worked with EBRD-selected consultants to improve their business have employed more staff. Cumulatively, these firms have created 24,500 new jobs. More than 70 per cent of the companies who obtained business advice also reported an increase in turnover averaging 30 per cent, a year after concluding their advisory project.
The EBRD incorporated an SME focus in its refugee response plan in 2016 to boost economic resilience in Jordan and Turkey. Both countries have seen a huge influx of Syrian refugees.
In Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, EBRD programmes supported by the EU offer business investments and advice and are helping SMEs adapt to the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU.
In order to support women’s entrepreneurship the Bank’s Women in Business programmes help businesswomen in 16 countries strengthen their skills. These programmes offer training and provide finance through credit lines to local banks.