The Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB), in co-operation with the Izmirlian Foundation (IF), is offering direct medium and long-term financing to Armenian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as joint co-financier. The Netherlands Management Co-operation (NMCP) will provide technical assistance.

The BSTDB and the IF will each commit a US$2mn credit line through a “BSTDB-IF SME Credit Line Control Unit” to be established in Armenia with the special purpose of administrating credit lines to local SMEs. The project constitutes the BSTDB’s first investment in Armenia and will contribute to the development of SME sector, which is a prime operational focus of BSTDB in Armenia.

The loan facility aims to support SMEs in their effort to improve quality of work and production capacity that would create greater business opportunities and boost economic initiative in such important sectors as manufacturing, services, transportation and food processing. Offering technical assistance of high expertise and sharing best operational practice will also have sound impact on investment climate in Armenia.

The Izmirlian Foundation is a philanthropic organisation created in 1994 to assist Armenian communities worldwide with an emphasis on needs existing in Armenia. The IF has contributed generously to various projects in Armenia in such fields as education and health. The IF has also been active in making investments in Armenia and has previous experience with SMEs. In 1999 the IF, together with the Eurasia Foundation of Washington DC, launched a loan programme for small and medium-sized business enterprises in Armenia (the Izmirlian-Eurasia Foundation Small Business Loan Program).

The IF views its collaboration with the BSTDB as a continuation of such efforts to assist the business climate and foster employment opportunities in Armenia. Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) is an international financial institution established by Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

With an authorised capital of SDR1bn (US1,325 billion), the bank supports economic development and regional co-operation by providing financing, guarantees, and equity for projects supporting both public and private enterprises in its member countries. Since the commencement of operations in 1999, BSTDB’s board of directors has approved 47 projects totaling over US$400mn.