The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is lending €5mn to Banka Koper, a top-tier Slovene bank, to support the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The European Union is providing €800,000 to cover the costs of staff training, technical assistance and other incentives.
The loan is being provided through the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility, a programme of the European Community 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.
Banka Koper, a fast-growing universal bank with its headquarters in the coastal town of Koper, granted 113 loans to SMEs under a similar facility signed in 2000. Under that facility Banka Koper focused its attention on the smaller end of the small-enterprise market, with an average loan size of €50,000.
The EBRD has extended a total of €355mn in loans to 25 financial intermediaries throughout the EU candidate countries. More than 10,000 small businesses have received financing under the facility to date.
In April 1999, the EBRD and the EC under the Phare Programme launched the EU/EBRD SME Finance Facility for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Operating in 10 EU accession countries of central and eastern Europe, the facility aims to encourage the growth and development of SMEs by facilitating their access to bank loans, leasing and equity finance from local commercial banks.
The Phare Programme is the main channel for the EU’s finance 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.