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More than 320 entrepreneurs across Romania have benefited from a €
10mn EBRD loan to Volksbank Romania (VBR) since 2002. Their number may soon double following a €10mn extension to this loan enabling VBR to reach out to even more entrepreneurs needing finance to launch or expand their businesses.

The EBRD loan is complemented by €1.2mn grant financing from the European Union to ensure successful implementation of the project. The finance is provided under the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility, a programme of the European Commission and EBRD promoting the growth and development of SMEs across those countries which recently joined the EU plus Bulgaria and Romania. So far 11 banks and leasing companies in Romania have received loans under this facility.

Hildegard Gacek, director for Romania at the EBRD, says there is a clear demand for finance from entrepreneurs which today is not being met. Volksbank Romania, with its clear focus on SME business, is helping to meet some of that demand with support from the Bank. The EBRD strongly supports entrepreneurs, which are crucial to economic strength in any country, Gacek says.

Jonathan Scheele, head of the delegation of the European Commission to Romania, adds: “The EU’s support for the SME sector is and for the foreseeable future will be strong. The support provided to VBR, including the technical assistance provided under the first loan, is an indication of this support. The Romanian economy needs continued growth, and SMEs are a key driver of economic progress.”

Laurentiu Mitrache, president of Volksbank Romania, says: “Business with the SME sector is a core part of Volksbank Romania’s strategy, and this latest loan will support our growth in this important area. We are very pleased to continue our cooperation with the EBRD, building on the success of the first loan, and we are also grateful for the assistance of the European Union in this project.”

Established and operational since 2000, Volksbank Romania, majority-owned by Austria’s Volksbank International (subsidiary of sterreichische Volksbanken-Aktiengesellschaft), has 15 branches in towns and cities across Romania and employees more than 300 staff. The bank’s strategy in Romania is driven principally by the potential of SME segment, where there is still serious need of finance from banks.

The SME Facility was launched in 1999 under the Phare Programme – the main channel for the EU’s financial and technical cooperation with the EU accession countries – with the EBRD, to encourage the growth and development of SMEs by providing access to loans, leasing and equity finance from local financial intermediaries.


The budget for the Phare Programme as a whole is about €1.5 billion a year.