The FINANCIAL -- An agreement signed on May 20 by the European Union (EU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will provide up to €28 million for business advice, information, training and other support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ukraine. The assistance will include the creation of a network of business support centres across Ukraine.
Thousands of Ukrainian SMEs will benefit directly from the new assistance programme, which will strengthen their competitiveness in domestic and international markets through in-depth advisory services, training courses and awareness-raising activities.
The funding is part of the wider EU4Business initiative which includes access to finance for Ukrainian SMEs, as well as significant technical assistance to the Ukrainian government to support deregulation and the implementation of sound policies to support the private sector, according to EBRD.
EU Ambassador Jan Tombiński said: “The EU4Business initiative aims to support job-creating Ukrainian businesses by equipping small and medium-sized companies with new skills and supporting their ambitions to export to the largest neighbouring market – the EU Single Market of more than 500 million consumers. We are teaming up with the EBRD, our longstanding partner, to significantly increase our support for small businesses in Ukraine and to help a variety of firms benefit from the opportunities available under the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). We are determined to help local businesses become drivers of economic growth in the Ukrainian regions and compete successfully in global markets.”
Sevki Acuner, Director, Head of EBRD operations in Ukraine, said: “Today’s agreement paves the way for more development opportunities for Ukrainian SMEs. Advisory and financial support provided by the EU and the EBRD will make these companies stronger and more competitive domestically and internationally. The opening of two new offices and the development of a network of business support centres across the country also reflects our commitment and attention to supporting Ukraine’s economic growth.”
In addition to the current EBRD offices in Kiev and Lviv, the latter now focusing on activities to support SMEs, new offices will be opened in Kharkiv in the east and Odessa in the south, widening and deepening the EBRD’s outreach and reflecting the importance that the Bank and the EU attach to the development of small private firms across the country. The EBRD will assist with the creation of a network of business support centres, in addition to using existing business support structures to establish operations in 15 regions of Ukraine.
It is also envisaged that up to €12 million of EU4Business funds will be used to support the EBRD’s direct financing of smaller enterprises. At least 50 SMEs are expected to be financed directly by the EBRD through a dedicated credit line worth €100 million.
Under the EU4Business initiative, Georgian, Moldovan and Ukrainian SMEs will receive €200 million of grants– a contribution that is expected to unlock at least €2 billion of new investments by SMEs in the three countries. These investments will be financed largely by new loans supported by the initiative.
The EBRD is the largest institutional investor in Ukraine. The enterprise sector is a strategic priority for the Bank in its engagement with Ukraine, including strong support to SMEs through the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative. In addition to finance, the Bank has provided expert advice to over 570 local SMEs since 2010, thanks to funding from the EU and other donors, increasing competitiveness, stimulating growth, and supporting the creation of over 2,500 jobs countrywide.