The EBRD is lending to Mikrokreditna Organizacija Sunrise, one of the largest non-bank micro finance institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), €4mn to enable owners of micro and small enterprises to gain more access to finance to expand or build their businesses.

The loan, which will be used by Sunrise to on-lend finance to entrepreneurs, falls under the €75mn EBRD Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Finance Framework for the Western Balkans and Croatia, which aims at facilitating access to finance for smaller business clients.

Sunrise’s loan will be complemented by an estimated €300,000 in technical assistance from donor countries, which will help, among other things, its transformation into the commercial sector, reflecting a new law on micro-credit organisations recently passed in BiH.

Giulio Moreno, the new EBRD head of office in Sarajevo, says Sunrise, with a portfolio of exclusively business clients, is playing a crucial role in helping to develop new entrepreneurial skills in the private sector beyond major towns and cities. It is an important institution that is assisting entrepreneurs across urban and rural Bosnia and Herzegovina with access to finance, and its business plan to transform into a countrywide commercial microfinance company within the next three years is welcomed by the bank, says Moreno.

Sunrise was initially established in 1996 as a non-governmental organisation. In December 2000, it was registered as a micro finance institution licensed to provide financial support to micro entrepreneurs in BiH. Throughout its network of six branches and 37 offices, Sunrise serves more than 15,000 clients across the Federation of BiH, Republika Srpska and District Brcko, both in urban and rural areas.

Mirsad Milavic, Sunrise general manager, stresses that the EBRD loan supports the further development of Sunrise by strengthening its institutional capacity and financial potential. This also enables Sunrise to offer financial services to an increasing number of micro and small enterprises, as well as additional support for Sunrise’s transformation from a non-for-profit to a for-profit commercial organization.

This latest EBRD loan builds on the bank’s support for the micro enterprise sector in BiH. In 2006, the bank extended loans to Mikrofin and EKI, to help fund micro enterprises. Across its countries of operations, the EBRD has committed over €800mn to 80 financial institutions, supporting more than 2mn micro and small businesses.