Cacanska Banka in Serbia is the first bank to receive a loan under the EBRD’s latest facility supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across western Balkan countries. The €5mn will help the bank boost local entrepreneurs “access to finance to launch or expand their businesses, helping to strengthen Serbia’s private sector and fuel economic development.

The €50mn Western Balkans Framework Facility makes loans to partner banks and leasing companies, which, in turn, extend loans to SMEs. Technical cooperation is also provided by the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR) to help banks upgrade, among other things, their SME risk appraisals. The facility aims to support this region in its transition to a market economy by strengthening the financial sector and by increasing SMEs “access to finance via local banks and leasing companies.

Under a separate programme, the EBRD is supporting Cacanska Banka’s trade activities with up to €1mn under its Trade Facilitation Programme, which supports trade to, from and within the Bank’s 27 countries of operations.

Dragica Pilipovic, director for Serbia and Montenegro at the EBRD, says Cacanska Banka, with its ambitions to strengthen its SME business, is a good EBRD partner. Both banks strongly support entrepreneurs, which are so crucial to economic development, says Pilipovic. By working with banks like Cacanska Banka, together we are helping to strengthen this sector in Serbia, she added.

The EBRD loan is being complemented with technical assistance funds from EAR to support staff training and to ensure successful implementation of the loan. Adriano Martins, head of the EAR’s Belgrade office, said the agency’s support for the SME sector has been strong and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

Established in 1956, Cacanska Banka serves clients mostly in central Serbia, a region with a high concentration of SMEs and entrepreneurs. The bank has its headquarters in Cacak with 15 branches and offices in central Serbia and Belgrade.