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 promote women’s entrepreneurship and participation in business. They enabling SMEs led by women to access the finance and know-how they need to grow. Women in Business programmes provide credit lines to local banks for dedicated on-lending to women-led SMEs, alongside business advice to help these enterprises become more competitive. We also offer training, mentoring and networking opportunities that enable businesswomen to share experiences and learn from their peers.
The first Women in Business programme was launched in Turkey in December 2014. At the end of 2016, programmes were active in 16 countries from Egypt to Kazakhstan. More than 25,000 female entrepreneurs have benefited from these programmes, which have provided €382 million in financing to 27 partner financial institutions. Furthermore, over 800 women have received training through our WiB workshops, honing skills such as leadership, digital marketing and corporate governance.
Under this programme the EBRD developed Business Lens, an online self-assessment tool for 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 2016, 1,700 women had used Business Lens, and the tool is now available in all 16 participating countries.
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. The first investment under the programme was signed in 2016, extending 2 million Tunisian dinars to Microcred Tunisie, the first EBRD loan to this microfinance institution.
The programme combines finance with access to advisory services and know-how to help small businesses become more competitive. In 2016, we undertook 366 advisory projects in the SEMED region. And we are working with policy-makers and stakeholders in these four countries on legal and regulatory changes. This work includes areas such as reform of leasing and factoring legislation, of warehouse receipt systems and of credit-information reporting. 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 35 countries and regional offices in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Ukraine, ensures that we are present on the ground and really understand the challenges facing businesses based outside commercial hubs. In 2016, 59 per cent of our advisory projects were with enterprises located outside major cities.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 2016, we trained 107 entrepreneurs and 17 consultants in regional areas 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 arising from the civil war in Syria. Millions of displaced people are seeking to make their homes and livelihoods in Jordan and in Turkey. To help refugee-led enterprises integrate into the private sector, improve the economic resilience of the two countries, and the host communities that are most affected, we are providing direct and indirect finance, alongside access to business advice and training for local consultants.Expand to read more
This work will strengthen enterprises in these areas as they continue to operate in challenging environments. The EBRD is also working with business groups and non-governmental organisations, in these regions, building their capacity to support SMEs.
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.