The EBRD is helping small businesses in Serbia improve their business

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In Serbia, 132 companies have successfully improved their business and improved their competitiveness thanks to the “EU for Serbia – EBRD Small Business Councils” program, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is implementing the project, announced today.
The program is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and is funded by the EU.
In addition, 72 companies and 29 consultants underwent training and coaching in various business areas to improve their knowledge and skills.
Also, 180 jobs were created thanks to the EU-EBRD program for small businesses, which is worth 2.2 million euros.
Through the Small Business Councils program, which has been implemented in Serbia since 2019, domestic companies can request consulting services in a wide range of areas, including implementation of quality standards, development of marketing plans, financial analysis, business plan development, management information system or improvement.
In cooperation with selected consultants, companies work on the development and implementation of projects tailored to their needs.
The advantage of the program is that the costs of the project in the amount of 50 to 75 percent are financed by non-refundable funds provided by the EU, which makes such an investment much more affordable for companies.
The program is funded by the National Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and so far 2.2 million euros have been allocated from these funds in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy.
The Minister of Economy, Andjelka Atanasković, said that small and medium enterprises are the engine of the Serbian economy.
“Funds provided from IPA funds at the proposal of the Ministry of Economy, have significantly contributed to greater competitiveness and better business of domestic companies. Support for businessmen, especially in the years after the crisis, is extremely important. The department I manage will continue to work in the next period on providing new jobs and supporting businessmen,” Atanasković pointed out.
The program is currently entering its final year of implementation with successful results: 67 percent of companies recorded an increase in the number of employees a year after the project and a total of 180 new jobs were created, while almost 60 percent of companies registered revenue growth.
As many as 99 percent of the companies that participated in the projects stated that they would cooperate again with external consultants on improving the business.
Over the past two years, most of the projects have been in the field of digitization and development of information systems or tools to promote online sales.
This trend has been particularly pronounced since the beginning of the Covid-19 virus pandemic and indicates an increase in the need to invest in digitalization.
EBRD Program Manager Aleksandra Miladinovic says strengthening the SME sector is one of the EBRD’s priorities in Serbia and has supported more than 1,000 companies since the establishment of the office in Serbia.
Dejan Shuvakov, manager of the program for assistance to SMEs and innovations in the EU Delegation to Serbia, said that the EU has so far invested 14 million euros in advisory assistance to Serbian companies.
“The ongoing project will enable 130 Serbian companies to improve their knowledge and skills in various areas of business, become more innovative and improve their competitiveness and productivity,” he said.
Within the program, the cooperation with the Development Agency of Serbia continued. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development organized a workshop to share its experiences and methodology with RAS employees in order to strengthen the agency’s capacity to implement similar support programs for small and medium-sized enterprises, Nova reports.