We believe that promoting inclusive growth is important for building strong economies. EBRD programmes seek to promote equal opportunities by addressing underserved groups in the SME sector – such as female entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs based outside major cities or displaced by conflict. These programmes help fulfil the economic growth potential of the countries where we work.
Promoting women in business across the region
Securing finance is one of greatest challenges that women-led SMEs face. These businesses are often considered unappealing clients for banks because they are more likely to be small and based in the services, traditional or informal sectors. In addition, they often have limited access to information and/or face cultural biases that lead to weak application of property rights.Expand to read more
The EBRD’s Women in Business programmes are a unique approach to promoting women’s entrepreneurship and participation in business, combining a wide range of activities to enable SMEs led by women to access the finance and know-how they need to grow. Under Women in Business programmes, credit lines to local banks for dedicated on-lending to women-led SMEs are combined with business advice to help women-led enterprises become more competitive. And, we also offer training, mentoring and networking opportunities that enable businesswomen to build networks, hone skills and share experiences with their peers.
In 2017, the EBRD signed €99 million in credit lines for women-led SMEs and reached 3,200 women entrepreneurs with business and skills development services. We launched a new Women in Business programme in Tajikistan and a new expanded programme in Egypt, which will provide up to €80 million of financing for women-led SMEs in Egypt over the next three years.
Women in Business is currently active in 17 countries. Since its initiation in December 2014, more than 35,000 women entrepreneurs have benefitted from these programmes, which have provided more than €430 million in financing to 33 partner financial institutions.
Business Lens is one of the innovations under this programme. An online self-assessment tool, it enables entrepreneurs to take a closer look at their businesses, identify areas of strength and weakness relative to their peers, and match themselves with the tools offered under the programme. By year-end 2017, more than 4,200 women had used Business Lens.
Improving financial inclusion in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region
Small businesses in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region often experience major constraints on their ability to grow. They frequently face difficulty in accessing risk capital, have limited financial literacy and experience, or suffer skill mismatches. Moreover, informality and a lack of financial data can prevent small businesses from being perceived as creditworthy.Expand to read more
Through our SEMED MSME Financial Inclusion Programme, a large-scale programme launched in 2016, we provide credit lines, risk sharing and technical assistance to partner financial institutions in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The programme enables these institutions to provide appropriate finance supporting SME growth. A key investment under the programme in 2017 was a €40 million loan to the Union Internationale de Banques (UIB) in Tunisia, which will provide financing to small and medium-sized enterprises in the country.
The programme combines finance with access to advisory services and know-how to help small businesses become more competitive. In 2017, we also undertook over 500 advisory projects in the SEMED region. And we are working with policy-makers and stakeholders in these four countries on legal and regulatory changes such as reform of leasing and factoring legislation.
These measures improve the wider business environment and increase the potential for small businesses to thrive.
Bolstering regional business development
Our extensive network, with offices in over 30 countries and regional offices in Egypt, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Morocco, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Ukraine, ensures that we are present on the ground and really understand the challenges facing businesses based outside commercial hubs. In 2017, half of our advisory clients were based outside a main city.Expand to read more
We also have a number of local development programmes in Kazakhstan, funded by private sector donors. These programmes provide business advice as well as training for prospective entrepreneurs through business clinics that explain how to start and manage a business. In 2017, we trained 65 entrepreneurs in a number of regions of the country, to help ensure that no business is left behind.
Supporting refugee-hosting communities
Support for the private sector and SMEs is a core element of the EBRD’s response to the recent refugee crisis in Jordan and in Turkey. This work began in 2016 and aims to improve the economic resilience of communities most affected, helping SMEs in these communities access advice to strengthen them in a challenging business environment.Expand to read more
In 2017, we undertook 115 advisory projects supporting SMEs in refugee-affected areas of Jordan and Turkey. Further, two training courses were carried out in Jordan to provide core entrepreneurial skills for mixed groups of Jordanian and Syrian women looking to become entrepreneurs. We are also building the capacity of the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce in south-eastern Turkey, boosting its ability to support its members and enterprises within the local business community that are led by refugees.
Enabling a local bank to better serve women entrepreneurs in Turkey
TEB was one of the banks that joined our Women in Business programme in Turkey, funded by the EBRD, the EU and the Republic of Turkey. With its longstanding reputation as an advocate of innovative entrepreneurs and SMEs, TEB successfully disbursed the entire €50 million of EBRD financing under the programme in addition to €15 million of its own funding at the beginning of 2017. The average loan size through this credit line is the lowest among other banks at €11,000. Under the programme, the share of start-ups and first-time borrowers in TEB’s sub-loan portfolio increased to 43% in number and 39% in volume.
During the start-up phase of her business, access to finance and collateral requirements were major obstacles for Sacide Efendioğlu, who co-established and manages a catering company, Efendioglu Catering, servicing public institutions such as hospitals and dormitories. Her business operates through three factories across Turkey, employing 52 employees, 60 % of which are women. She obtained a loan from TEB for TRY 50,000 (or €12,000) with a very favourable interest rate and no hard collateral required, which helped her to hire more people and to purchase inputs for the provision of catering services for a new corporate client. Ms Efendioğlu is now planning to open a restaurant in Central Ankara.
disbursed under the TEB Women in Business programme
lowest average loan size
of the sub-loan portfolio represented by start-ups by number
Helping reconnect business links for a Syrian business in Turkey
Saadplast is the first Syrian-led SME that we supported with advisory services in Gaziantep, Turkey, thanks to funding from the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund.
Established in 1982 in Syria as a family business, Saadplast produces plastic containers mainly for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and foodstuffs. When war in Syria broke out, with the help of their former business contacts in Turkey, the family managed to relocate the business to Gaziantep where they re-established their company in 2013.
Being new in Turkey, the company first had to learn how the Turkish business environment works. Saadplast’s aim was to grow the business in Turkey through renewing its former business relations in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq, exploring new export markets and expanding their share in the domestic market. To achieve this, the management realised that they also needed to revamp the operational processes to increase efficiency and improve production quality.
We helped them work with a Syrian-German consultant who also operates in Gaziantep and who understood the company’s challenges in Turkey. The consultant worked to improve the company’s production processes and organisational structure so that they could improve efficiency and ensure higher quality products.
As a result, one year after the project’s completion, the company increased turnover by 18% and profits by 14%. The company doubled the number of staff, from 10 to 20 employees.
Number of employees
Helping a Turkmen tea and food wholesaler expand its production and distribution networks across the whole country
With funding from the EU, we helped Soyunhan Soyunhanov, a Turkmen entrepreneur wholesaling tea and food products, to prepare a business development plan and obtain financing recommendations for its business expansion.
Private entrepreneur, Mr. Soyunhanov has been doing business in Turkmenistan since 2003, when he entered the market of wholesale trade of food products. He then added packaged tea (Arab tea) to the assortment of goods his company distributed. Since then, tea distribution became the main source of the company’s turnover.
After expanding his distribution chain to all five regions of Turkmenistan, the entrepreneur decided to diversify his entrepreneurial activities and to enter the agricultural field, namely through the production of milk and beef, in Ahal region, Baharly district, by the Karakum River.
In the long term, the entrepreneur plans to increase the amount, range and organisation of product delivery to all regions of Turkmenistan. We connected the company with a local consultant who helped develop a business plan for the investment project for its business expansion ambitions.
One year after the project’s completion, the company was able to secure financing from Rysgal bank, one of EBRD’s partner banks in the country. This financing in the amount of €1.8 million was used for the construction of a farm and to purchase equipment and inventory. The company also increased its annual turnover by 48% and more than triple the number of employees.
in external financing
Enabling a local bank to better serve women entrepreneurs in Kosovo
TEB Kosovo was one of the first banks to join our Women in Business programme in the Western Balkans, funded by Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund. The bank had already begun investing in the idea that supporting women entrepreneurs would contribute to economic and social gains in Kosovo – and had launched their own “Women Entrepreneurship Programme” in 2014.
We provided a €3 million loan for TEB Kosovo in 2015 to on-lend to women-led SMEs in the country. With the support of banking and gender specialists provided under the programme, TEB Kosovo also used these funds partially to develop a new loan product for start-up women entrepreneurs.
The first client for this start-up loan was Flake Hajdani, who has started a business manufacturing hygienic masks and show covers. She used the loan to purchase the equipment needed to start production. After fully repaying the loan, on time, as a form of recognition for her successful start-up, TEB Kosovo reimbursed part of the interest cost on the loan. In October 2016, Flake received a second loan, which allowed her to buy raw materials and additional machinery and equipment to expand her business.
TEB Kosovo has already supported over 200 women entrepreneurs under the Women in Business programme. With more to come!
disbursed under the programme
Women in Business loans
Supporting refugees in Jordan through improving SME access to finance
As part of the EBRD’s Refugee Response in Jordan, supported by donor funding from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the USA’s Agency for International Development (USAID), the EBRD is providing financing to local partner financial institutions to support the SME sector.
This serves not only to build up Jordan’s economic resilience but also helps promote opportunities for Syrian refugees to effectively integrate into local communities, for instance through the creation of jobs for both Jordanians and Syrians alike. Overall, this financing is expected to provide support to thousands of small businesses in sectors ranging from agribusiness and manufacturing to education and construction.
Among the first beneficiaries of this new framework are the 450 children studying at the private Ajyal Alfarooq kindergarten and elementary school in Amman. More than 30 percent of the close to 1.5 million refugees that have fled Syria for Jordan are children. By providing two loans to modernise the classrooms of the school and extend the premises, school Director Kamal Abu Alezz will be able to educate even more children. This type of investment is especially vital when the number of refugee children continues to grow, and state-run schools are unable to welcome them all.
“We opened this school, as we wanted to help our country. Our school is open to all children and we provide our students with a comfortable, clean and healthy school environment to encourage their growth. We understand Jordanian children’s difficult situation as well as that of kids from other nations, especially the refugee kids that might not be able to afford other institutions.” Kamal Abu Alezz, Director
through EBRD Partner bank
to modernise and expand
children attend the school
Improving organisational management in north-west Kazakhstan
Nurbek Omarov is a wholesale and retail food supplier from Aksai, north-west Kazakhstan – over 2,500 km from Kazakhstan’s main commercial hub, Almaty. As part of our regional development programme, funded by Shell Kazakhstan, we helped to improve the management efficiency of the business, increasing turnover by 29% within a year.
Mr Omarov started his business as a private entrepreneur in 2010 by opening a warehouse and a retail store in Aksai. The business grew rapidly and was soon able to expand. By 2015, the company employed 60 people and had three stores – but still didn’t have proper human resource procedures in place, limiting its ability to expand and diversify.
We connected the company with a local organisational management consultant, who helped develop a new organisational structure, implemented an appraisal system for key employees as well as developed all the regulating documents and working documents to boost labour productivity.
These new processed meant that the owner of the business now spent less time engage in daily operations and could instead focus on overseeing the company’s management strategy. They already have big plans: to build a 1000m2 wholesale market, renew the pastry production line and start exporting products abroad.