CEB approves €30 million loan to support Serbian MSMEs

30 January 2019

PARIS – The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) approved a €30 million loan to UniCredit Bank Serbia (UCB) to provide financing to micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. 

Despite sustained economic growth in recent years, unemployment in Serbia remains relatively high. MSMEs play a major role in the country’s economy, accounting for 65% of employment in the private sector. However, despite MSMEs being an asset to the economy, access to financing is both difficult and expensive for them. Therefore, the provision of long-term funding from international financial institutions is crucial for the development of the MSME sector. 

UCB, a member of the UniCredit Group, is the second largest bank in Serbia, with 1,300 staff and more than 70 branches throughout the country. It places a lot of emphasis on gender equality and strongly supports women entrepreneurs. 

By joining forces with UCB, the CEB aims to utilise UCB’s extensive network in order to channel funds to a large number of MSMEs for the realisation of their investment projects. The programme will strengthen the competitiveness of small businesses, reinforce the development of small entrepreneurial activity and contribute to the creation of new permanent and seasonal jobs as well as to the preservation of existing ones. 

“Providing financing for MSMEs as a way of creating jobs is a CEB priority area of operation against the background of high unemployment in Europe,” said CEB Governor Wenzel. “With this loan and thanks to the CEB’s partnership with UCB, over 1,300 small Serbian businesses and local entrepreneurs, including many women, will be able to access the funds that they need in order to expand their business and create new jobs,” he concluded. 

Serbia has been a CEB member since 2004. In addition to support for micro, small and medium-sized businesses through local partner banks, CEB operations in the country focus on social infrastructure in the areas of housing, education and penitentiary centres, as well as support. Serbia is an active partner of the Bank in the framework of the CEB-managed Regional Housing Programme (RHP) and the programme’s largest beneficiary. Also, CEB refugee grants to Serbia under the Migrant and Refugee Fund (MRF) since 2016 have exceeded € 3.5 million.

Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 41 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable, AA+ with Standard & Poor's, outlook positive and AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.

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