The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has developed a framework to make financing more affordable for smaller suppliers, starting with the launch of a Poland-based partnership with Santander.

The EBRD announced this week it would work with a subsidiary of Santander Bank Poland to support a supplier payment programme offered by Zabka, which operates thousands of franchised convenience stores across Poland.

The financing will enable suppliers to receive early payment on goods and services, supported by the EBRD’s unfunded risk participation in the programme worth up to PLN 225mn (€47mn).

It says the facility will allow Zabka to expand its market presence and increase access to working capital for its suppliers, most of which are small and medium-sized enterprises.

As part of its wider strategy, Zabka aims to develop a “convenience ecosystem”, which includes cafes, a mobile app, an e-commerce platform, autonomous stores and a ready meal provider. It is also creating a number of jobs for Ukrainian refugees in Poland, the EBRD says.

Further ahead, the framework is expected to support the provision of financing to suppliers of large creditworthy businesses based in EBRD regions. The EBRD will “participate on a funded or unfunded basis in the supply chain finance programmes that financial institutions extend to larger corporates whose suppliers are based in the EBRD regions”, it says. Suppliers can also receive support on how best to comply with environmental, social and governance standards.

To date, the EBRD has invested more than €11.7bn in projects in Poland. Earlier this year, the bank offered fresh trade finance support for businesses affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the form of a €2bn resilience package.