The EBRD and Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding, one of the leading banking groups in central and eastern Europe, are teaming up to increase support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Bulgaria and Croatia.

Raiffeisen International subsidiaries in Bulgaria and will each receive €10mn EBRD loans. The funds will be made available under the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility to farmers and entrepreneurs based in rural areas in Bulgaria, and to SMEs in general in Croatia, giving them more access to finance to expand their businesses. The loans to both subsidiaries will be complemented by grant support from the European Commission, including technical assistance services focused on small business lending.

Kurt Geiger, EBRD business group director for financial institutions says Raiffeisen International is an important partner for the EBRD in reaching out to private-sector business.

Banking groups like Raiffeisen International are vehicles which enable us collectively to reach into the heart of the entrepreneurial sector, helping to create jobs, especially in rural areas, and boost economic growth, he adds.