The EBRD has signed a €10mn loan to Raiffeisen-Leasing Polska SA, Poland’s fifth largest leasing company, and a subsidiary of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank, to support the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The European Union is also providing around €2mn to cover the costs of expanding the company’s business into the SME sector, such as staff training, via the Phare Programme.

The loan is being provided through the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility, a programme of the EC in co-operation with the EBRD to facilitate the access to finance of small and medium-sized enterprises and to promote SME growth and development. This is the first loan under the facility by the bank to a leasing company in the region.

Kurt Geiger, business group director, financial institutions at the EBRD, says this loan will help SMEs in Poland compete in an increasingly open market. He claims small businesses in Poland need access to reliable, and medium-term funding, and that projects like this will help them achieve just that.

“Thanks to the new opportunities arising from our co-operation with EBRD, Polish entrepreneurs will receive access to new financing sources, with simpler and faster application procedures,” says Arkadiusz Etryk, president of Raiffeisen-Leasing Polska SA.
The SME Facility was launched on April 1999 under the Phare Programme of the European Commission, with the EBRD, to encourage the growth and development of SMEs by facilitating their access to loans, leasing and equity finance from local financial intermediaries in the candidate countries.

The Phare Programme is one of main channels for the European Union’s financial and technical co-operation with the candidate countries of central and eastern Europe. The budget earmarked for the Phare Programme as a whole is about €1.5bn a year. Over the period 1990-2002 Phare provided assistance to Poland of €3.5bn.

This is the EBRD’s second loan to Raiffeisen Group to support SMEs in Poland in just six months, following a €10mn loan to Raiffeisen Bank Polska in May 2002. To date the EBRD has provided around €130mn to SMEs in Poland.