Business environment

We understand that SMEs face complex challenges. For this reason, in addition to direct assistance for small businesses, we cooperate with policy-makers, local stakeholders, international financial institutions and the wider donor community as we work together to improve the business environment for SMEs. These activities are tailored to the needs of each country and seek to bring international best practice to our region.

Enhancing access to finance: factoring, leasing and listing

Improving access to finance for SMEs goes hand-in-hand with clear, targeted policy interventions. With our significant expertise in financial-sector law reform, we provide expert legal advice to governments.

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We help them develop well-defined regulatory frameworks for non-bank financing instruments, such as leasing and factoring, that complement traditional bank lending but are often better suited to the financing needs of SMEs. In 2016 we helped the governments of Mongolia and Montenegro to introduce new legislation in these areas, and are engaging with the government in Serbia to strengthen their legislation. And, for those businesses that are ready to take the next step, we are also supporting the creation of specialised platforms for

And, for those businesses that are ready to take the next step, we are also supporting the creation of specialised platforms for public listing of SMEs. In 2016, we launched an initiative to support the Zagreb Stock Exchange in creating an exchange-operated regional market structure in Croatia for financing small and medium-sized enterprises.

Improving access to public procurement opportunities

We also support governments in their efforts to encourage SMEs to participate in procurement for low-value public contracts.

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We are currently supporting modern eProcurement in Moldova, Mongolia and Tunisia, and have already seen meaningful results. The Tunisian parliament adopted secondary legislation on low-value public procurement in December 2016, and a legislative framework has been approved by the Mongolian Ministry of Finance in 2017. In Moldova, the EBRD piloted eProcurement for low-value projects in November 2016.

Developing local capital markets

The SME Local Currency Programme also has a strong policy component. It works to address the over-reliance on foreign exchange finance that affects many of our countries of operations.

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In 2016, both Tunisia and Ukraine signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the EBRD, enabling them to benefit from the programme in future. These MOUs include detailed plans for capital market reforms and specify the actions required of stakeholders. In total, eight countries have signed such MOUs with the Bank.

Building capacity

We also support business organisations, improving their capacity to assist their SME members and strengthen the wider infrastructure for SME support in the countries where we work.

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In 2016, the EBRD completed a support programme for business associations in Mongolia, ranging from regional chambers of commerce and the Mongolian Management Consulting Institute to a regional tourism association. We are now building on this experience to support such organisations in Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, through programmes launched in 2016, and will implement a second phase of assistance for business associations in Mongolia.

Developing local consultancy markets

By promoting the development local consultancy markets, we are helping to ensure long-term, sustainable access to high-quality business advice for SMEs.

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We have a suite of customised training courses for local consultants, including our training series, “Grow Your Consulting Business”, and specialised training on topics such as energy efficiency and export promotion. In 2016, the EBRD delivered 80 courses of this kind, reaching over 750 consultants.


As a major investor in our countries of operations, the EBRD plays an important advocacy role in promoting SME development and articulating the needs of small business.

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We also take the lead in some of the major platforms coordinating donor activity in SME development across our region, such as the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) and have been a key contributor to the G20 countries’ B20 taskforce on SME growth.

In 2015-16, together with the European Commission, the OECD and the European Training Foundation, we published the SME Policy Index for the Eastern Partnership Countries as well as for the Western Balkans and Turkey. As in previous editions, we analysed the Small Business Act for Europe on access to finance, providing an assessment of the financial sector and related policy and legislation, as well as offering short- and medium-term policy recommendations.