With six months of the two-year project still to run, €15.7m ($19.3m) in EBRD/EU small business loans have been provided, and participants are also expected to receive more than €4m ($4.9m) in grants from EU funds.
Lack of funding
According to the EBRD, the biggest problem of the private sector and SMEs, aside from administrative barriers, is the lack of capital.
It adds experiences in developed countries suggest entrepreneurs need to be provided with favorable financial incentives to secure funds for investments.
The current support from the EBRD and the EU is oriented towards increasing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises on local, regional and European markets through the harmonization with EU directives and standards in the fields of occupational health and safety, environmental protection and product safety and quality.
Of the 58 projects financed by the EBRD credit line so far, 44 have been finalized and verified.
The dairy “PAÐENI,” in Bileća, is one of the companies that achieved the harmonization with EU directives and its products have been available on the EU market since 2016.
General manager Nenad Vukoje said in order for a company to succeed, it constantly needs to upgrade its production and products.
“To make that happen, we need to invest in new technologies and new products,” Vukoje said.
“The EBRD/EU project has motivated us to complete an investment of €800,000 ($982,000) this year. We completed a facility with the capacity to process nearly 60,000 liters of milk a day into 30 different products.
“As part of the project, we managed to purchase a yogurt bottle filling machine, an electric generating unit and the enlargement of our production hall facility.”
Since the start of its operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EBRD has invested more than €2bn ($2.45bn) in 146 projects in the country. The bank invests in infrastructural development, support to small and medium enterprises and strengthening of financial sector.
The European Union has invested more than €50m ($61m) in small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past 15 years.
In 2018, a further €15m ($18.4m) will be available to support SMEs in sectors such as tourism and the food industry.