The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the ProCredit group have agreed on a new EUR 65 million credit line to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Western Balkans and to speed their recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
This transaction provides much-needed financing to companies in Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia and Bosnia & Herzegovina and addresses their working capital, liquidity and investment needs in the face of the ongoing pandemic, the EIB announced.
The EIB loan, as said, will help mitigate the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, support companies, retain jobs and maintain small businesses across the region.
The credit line is part of the European Commission’s EUR 3.3 billion financial support package for the Western Balkans, out of which EUR 1.7 billion from the EIB has been earmarked to support sustainable social and economic recovery in the region.
The EIB loans towards the private sector follow Team Europe’s efforts to support the Western Balkans.
To date, the EIB has invested EUR 4.1 billion in SMEs in the Western Balkans, which has helped sustain over half a million jobs in the region.
EIB Vice-President responsible for the Western Balkans, Lilyana Pavlova, said that the COVID-19 impact was expected to be particularly harsh on SMEs, which account for about 73% of total employment in the Western Balkans.
– This operation comes at the right time to help the region alleviate economic recession, ensure employment and boost growth. As was previously the case, the EIB has once again expressed its firm support to advance development of the private sector towards convergence with EU standards and the creation of a strong common regional market with increased competitiveness and job opportunities – Pavlova said.
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