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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 5 December 2012

Western Balkans: new EU scheme to facilitate access to financing for SMEs

Over EUR 300 million will be made available to innovative and high-potential small and medium size companies (SMEs) in the Western Balkans, and to create a regional venture capital market that will facilitate their emergence and growth.

The financing will be mobilised through the Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) which was launched today in Paris. It is organised back-to-back with the Steering Committee of the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF) hosted by the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). Its initial capital of EUR 145 million has been pulled together by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and beneficiaries as well as bilateral donors. The European Commission, with EUR 65.6 million, provides the largest share of the capital.

WB EDIF will be coordinated by the EIF and implemented in close cooperation between the governments of the Western Balkans, the European Commission and other partners. The scheme will also be open to cooperation with other international organisations and bilateral donors active in the region with a view to streamlining efforts to develop private sector in the Western Balkans.

SMEs are vital to economic development in the Western Balkans. The scheme thus contributes to the growth agenda of the region and to meeting the targets of the South East Europe 2020 Strategy. The funding is expected to be operational on the ground as of 2013.


WB EDIF includes four components aiming at:

  • early to development stages equity financing in innovative SMEs;

  • provision of development and expansion capital to established high-growth potential SMEs;

  • improvement of SME access to bank lending and lowering the cost of borrowing by providing SME loan portfolio guarantees to financial intermediaries;

  • creation of a favourable regulatory environment for innovative and high-potential SMEs; supporting beneficiary governments in implementation of priority reforms.

(More to follow)

It is the first regional initiative in the private sector development area channelled through the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF).

About WBIF

WBIF supports socio-economic development and EU accession across the Western Balkans through the provision of finance and technical assistance for strategic investments, particularly in infrastructure, energy efficiency and private sector development. It is a joint initiative of the EU, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), bilateral donors and governments of the Western Balkans.

About EIB

The EIB is the European Union’s bank. As the largest multilateral borrower and lender, EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects, mostly in the EU. EIB is owned by the 27 EU Member States and the projects it supports contribute to furthering EU policy objectives.

About EIF

EIF's central mission is to support Europe's micro small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital and guarantee instruments which specifically target this market segment. EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

About EBRD

EBRD, owned by 63 countries and two intergovernmental institutions, supports the development of market economies and democracies in countries from central and eastern Europe to central Asia and north Africa. It supports SMEs through financing and advisory support.

Contacts :

Anca Paduraru (+32 2 296 64 30)

Peter Stano (+32 2 295 74 84)

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