Trade promotion

Most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) produce mainly for domestic markets. And, while the SME sector can be well-suited to international trade, smaller businesses often face barriers to reaching international markets.

By making SMEs more competitive and export-ready, we strengthen their capacity to trade, open them up to new markets and contribute to economic diversification.

In order to do this, the EBRD provides access to trade finance tools and financing that enable SMEs to align with international standards. We also help small businesses obtain the right know-how to introduce international quality, phytosanitary, safety and ecological standards, and adapt their products and approach to international markets. And we help improve their management capacity, corporate governance, export marketing and financial transparency. A fifth of the advisory projects we evaluated in 2016 brought export growth, with these 354 enterprises increasing their exports by a combined total of €197 million.

Readying SMEs for stronger trade with the EU

The EBRD is preparing SMEs for the opportunities offered by the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the European Union and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In a joint programme with the EU, we are supporting SMEs in these three countries. The programme provides financing through local partner financial institutions, supported by grants, for SMEs to invest in new technologies or processes and adapt to international standards. It is also helping businesses access the right know-how to improve their internal operations or seek new market opportunities.

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In 2016, we provided the first loans to partner banks under the programme. A US$ 25 million (€23 million) facility was signed with Bank of Georgia and €5 million was signed with Mobiasbanca – Group Société Générale in Moldova. And across all three countries, almost 70 firms benefited from business advice to help them introduce new standards or explore EU markets.

In addition, we are lending to SMEs directly to support DCFTA-related investments. This financing is mainly in local currency and with longer-than-average tenors, neither of which are widely available to SMEs in these markets. In 2016, three direct investments were made under the programme, providing €13.2 million in finance.

Increasing export readiness in Central Asia

In 2016, we successfully concluded a five-year programme assisting SMEs in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to improve their export-readiness and diversify their trade.

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Whether they were already exporting and needed to strengthen their position, or were starting export activity, business advice from international industry advisers or local consultants helped them take the next step. As part of this programme, 355 advisory projects were undertaken. There were also numerous activities to strengthen export capacity, including training, seminars and sector events.

Trade Ready: promoting access to trade finance and advice for SMEs

In 2016, we launched Trade Ready, helping SMEs unleash their trade potential. It provides wide-ranging advice to make small businesses more competitive at home and abroad. Trade Ready also offers training in trade finance instruments and features networking opportunities that can support more effective export-import activities. With these tools, SMEs are better able to choose appropriate financing options for their international trade.

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Trade Ready also works with local partner banks. It helps tailor their trade finance products to the needs of small businesses and market them more effectively to these clients, many of whom consider trade finance too complex and expensive. In 2017, Trade Ready is being rolled out to our first pilot countries, Georgia and Serbia.