The European Union (EU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are launching a new programme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The EBRD is providing €20 million in funding through local partner banks, while the EU funding of €4 million will finance incentives and know-how transfer to SMEs engaging in the “BiH SME Competitiveness Support Facility”.
Progress with the adoption of the EU’s acquis will involve far-reaching regulatory changes. Local businesses will have to make significant investments and adaptations to their operations in this process. The new facility is designed to support this progress and motivate local SMEs to proactively confront these challenges. It will help overcome various barriers, upgrade production facilities and comply with EU directives in the fields of environmental protection, workers’ safety as well as product quality and safety.
Ian Brown, EBRD Head of Office in Sarajevo, said: “We are very proud this important new framework which will allow us to address key issues facing local businesses in a targeted and focused way. By providing our financial support through local partner banks we are also making a contribution to strengthening the country’s financial sector. This project demonstrates what the EU and EBRD can do working together and will set standards in easily accessible support in areas where it is much needed.”
Martin Schieder, Head of Operations Section for Economic Development, Natural Resources and Infrastructure, at the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina said: “BiH authorities should speed up the necessary economic reforms and establish more efficient and country-wide harmonised institutional and policy framework for SMEs competitiveness. But today, we are here to launch some practical work to boost small and medium sized businesses in the country. Concretely, “BiH SME Competitiveness Support Facility” will assist some 50 SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina to upgrade their production facilities in order to comply with EU Directives in the fields of environmental protection, workers’ safety as well as product quality and safety.“
Since the start of its operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EBRD has invested more than €1.8 billion in some 130 projects in the country. The Bank invests in infrastructure development, support for small and medium-sized enterprises and the strengthening of the financial sector.
The European Union has provided more than 40 million euro to support the SME sector in BiH over the past 15 years. With our technical assistance and grant funding, the SMEs received tangible support to grow in competitive sectors, such as tourism, agro-processing, wood and metal industry.