The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will continue to support small and medium enterprises, representatives of this bank who invited companies from the sector to apply for vocational counseling programmes.
Despite the fact they generate nearly 70% of jobs, create 54% of gross added value and about 34% of gross domestic product, small and medium enterprises in Serbia face numerous challenges. In order to improve their business, with the support of EBRD since 2013, “Program of support to small and medium-sized enterprises in Serbia”, funded by the European Union with the support of the Ministry of Economy of Serbia has been implemented.
So far, it involved more than 240 companies to whom domestic and foreign consultants assisted, providing necessary technical skills and know-how, in order to encourage innovation, attract investors, acquire relevant expertise, become leaders in business and thus increase the competitiveness and productivity in private sector in Serbia.
Head of EBRD for Serbia Daniel Berg pointed out that small business is the key for economy development and said that the bank is supporting SMEs as they can push growth. – SME firms receive our help, and within the project it is consulting that is provided. And when we see small companies which used our help to continue to invest and progress, it’s great and we want to have their continued growth. If we could help 100 companies per year, it would be good, because they are an important part of the economy – Berg said. He explained within the project, companies do not receive 100% grants, but it is expected that they participate as well. According to him, since 2001, EBRD in Serbia supported more than 750 companies, which helped private sector development.
Bojana Vukosavljevic from EBRD has explained today that the maximum grants for advisors is EUR 10,000, and the percentage which donors give will depend on consulting services and company location, so those from smaller communities received a higher grant percentage.
She said that the program supported companies from different industries , such as food and beverage sector , wholesale and retail , distribution , construction and engineering, and pointed out that 77 % of companies which received advice from EBRD increased their turnover, by 23% on the average.
– Our idea is thus to be here three or four years so that SME sector would get ready for joining Europe and continue operating when there is no support – Vukosavljevic said.
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