The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Banca Intesa AD Beograd signed the first agreement in Serbia under the COSME Programme, the European Commission’s programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), during a signature event held today in Belgrade, Serbia.
Thanks to the financial backing of the European Commission, EIF is providing a direct guarantee that will enable Banca Intesa to support 3,000 SMEs in Serbia over the next two years with EUR 60 million in loans on favourable terms – with increased maturities and without any hard collateral.
Minister of Economy Goran Knežević stated that Serbia is turning more and more to development and that the Government of Serbia is focusing on SMEs and entrepreneurship, which are seen as the drivers of development.
“Besides allocating significant funds in the budget for financial and non-financial support to this sector, our goal is, as defined in the Strategy, to provide new sources of finance for our SMEs and entrepreneurs, just as it will be done through the European COSME program”, the minister said and added that the Ministry of Economy will ensure continuity in cooperation with commercial banks on the implementation of the COSME program, with other banks expected to follow suit over the next year.
“As we all know very well, SMEs are the backbone of any economy in today’s world. In this respect, Serbia is not an exception. Namely, 99.8% of enterprises in Serbia are SMEs. These SMEs employ 65% of all employees in the private (non-financial) sector and contribute 56% to the net value added of Serbia’s (non-financial) economy. In view of these figures, any program that can further boost SMEs – and COSME is aiming at that – will also boost the economy in its entirety. Its existence is therefore of utmost importance and this is the reason why the European Union is focused on supporting this sector”, EU Head of Delegation, Ambassador Michael Davenport said.
Banca Intesa Executive Board President, Draginja Đurić, stated: “We are proud that Banca Intesa is the first bank in Serbia to begin COSME implementation, thus confirming its long-term commitment as the leading bank in the market and the biggest creditor of the economy to being a reliable partner of the Serbian government in promoting entrepreneurship and supporting its development through constant credit offer improvement. Entrepreneurs and SMEs are the pillars of Serbia’s economic growth and employment, and the agreement we signed today will enable us to provide them with much-needed funding under better-than-market conditions, with a lower interest rate, longer maturity and, what is perhaps the most important to them – with no mortgage.”