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New ENEF II Fund to Propel Growth in Western Balkans

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced the introduction of the Enterprise Expansion Fund II (ENEF II), aimed at fostering the growth of companies with high development potential in the Western Balkans. This significant initiative starts with €57 million in investments from notable entities including the EBRD, the European Union (EU), Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), and the German development bank KfW.

During its official unveiling in Belgrade, Banca Intesa stepped forward as the first private sector investor, committing up to €7 million to ENEF II. This contribution, matched by an additional €7 million from the European Union, elevates the fund’s total investment capability to €71 million. Banca Intesa’s investment reinforces its commitment to the sustainable development of the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

ENEF II is designed to support 15 to 20 companies by offering a variety of financial instruments, including minority equity investments, recapitalizations, hybrid debt-equity solutions, and conventional loans, with investment amounts ranging from €500,000 to €8 million.

In addition to financial support, ENEF II provides comprehensive advisory services to assist businesses in developing robust and successful operational models. The fund is also dedicated to promoting sustainable development among its investees, encouraging them to adhere to best practices in environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and governance (ESG).

The launch event, organized by the Italian Embassy in Serbia, saw participation from key European ambassadors, including Emanuele Giaufret of the EU, Luca Gori of Italy, and Anke Konrad of Germany. They highlighted the initiative’s alignment with shared goals for enhancing private sector growth and further economic advancement in the Western Balkans. Over 70 companies from Serbia, the wider region, and Italy were in attendance, exploring funding opportunities and potential partnerships.

EU Ambassador Giaufret praised the timing of the initiative, which coincides with the EU’s preparations for a new growth and reform agenda for the Western Balkans focused on private sector development. With a substantial investment of €26 million from the EU, the project aims to bolster SMEs, making Serbia and its neighbors more competitive on European and global levels.

Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans, expressed enthusiasm for Banca Intesa’s involvement, highlighting it as a valuable addition to their ongoing collaboration across the region. ENEF II continues the success of its predecessor fund, with a commitment to investing in local businesses and providing them with the necessary support for growth and sustainability.

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The EBRD remains one of the largest institutional investors in the Western Balkans, emphasizing the importance of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia as strategic areas. With more than €18 billion invested in these economies, the launch of ENEF II signifies a continued effort to drive economic development and sustainability in the region.

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