Two new contracts were signed today at the Government of Serbia today within the European COSME program for competitiveness of small and medium enterprises, by which direct guarantees will be secured for banks to support around 4,600 small and medium enterprises in Serbia with EUR 200 million in loans.
The contracts were signed by Pier Luigi Gilibert, CEO of the European Investment Fund, Draginja Djuric, president of the Executive Board of Banca Intesa, and Csilla Ihasz, president of the Executive Board of UniCredit Bank Serbia.
Minister of Economy Goran Knezevic, who attended the signing of the agreements, stated that Serbia, as well as Europe, drew its biggest potential and strength from SMEs, which made up 98% of business entities in Serbia and contributed more than 50% to the GDP of Serbia, while employing two thirds of the workers in the non-financial sector.
This year, as he added, the Government of Serbia has secured 34 projects of financial and non-financial support in the total amount of RSD 18.2 billion, of which RSD 7.6 billion as grants. According to him, the support provided within the Year of Entrepreneurship so far has led to an increase in profit by around 70% in SMEs and the creation of 30,000 new jobs, leading to the proclamation of the Decade of Entrepreneurship.
He pointed out that the COSME program was very important for Serbia, as it provided more new funds under favorable conditions for small and medium enterprises.
– We have small and medium enterprises which are ready to withdraw all the funds, as they already withdrew EUR 60 million of favorable loans after the first contract – he said and added that Serbian banks were also ready to make serious arrangements with global financial institutions.
The contract signed with UniCredit Bank today will enable new crediting of up to EUR 100 million, and the funds will be provided in the next three years to around 2,400 SMEs, whereas the annex to the contract with Banca Intesa will enable it to support another 2,200 SMEs with an additional EUR 100 million, following the successful realization of EUR 60 million in loans as part of the contract of December 2016.
Let us remind that the agreement between the European Union and Serbia which secured Serbia's inclusion in the EU program for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) was signed in Brussels on November 10, 2015. This established the possibility of financing the activities aiming to raise competitiveness through support to SMEs in Serbia in the stages of foundation, growth and development. By signing the agreement, Serbia became the seventh country outside the EU allowed to use the COSME funds, in addition to Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Moldova, Armenia and Turkey.
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