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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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EU pledges drive €12 million in low-interest loans, safeguarding over 3,000 jobs in the Western Balkans

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The European Investment Fund (EIF), a branch of the EIB Group, has inked agreements with 11 banks and financial intermediaries in the Western Balkans. These pacts, underwritten by the EU guarantee WB EDIF for the SME Resilience Initiative, aim to unlock around €12 million in favorable loans for approximately 222 SMEs, preserving over 3,000 jobs.

This injection of funds seeks to bolster SMEs’ access to finance and fortify their resilience against prevailing economic headwinds. It also endeavors to spur business expansion, job creation, and innovation. Marjut Falkstedt, Executive Director of EIF, stressed that by bolstering SMEs, particularly in their most vulnerable segments, these substantial financial resources will augment their capacity for innovation and growth. Moreover, it will facilitate deeper integration into the EU economy, propelling the development of robust and competitive regional economies while advancing their participation in global value chains.

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In Montenegro, EIF guarantees have already facilitated access to approximately €120 million for some 4,900 SMEs, thereby safeguarding over 36,000 jobs. Oana Kristina Popa, Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, underscored the significance of such initiatives in not only fostering private sector growth but also driving broader socio-economic advancement. By providing credit opportunities for SMEs, EIF’s initiative fosters innovation and employment, addressing a key obstacle in the private sector – the lack of access to finance. Popa highlighted that Montenegrin authorities are committed to reducing business barriers and enhancing the overall business environment through the implementation of the Reform Agenda.

Collectively, these initiatives will empower Montenegrin companies to prepare for integration into the single market. As part of the European Investment Bank Group, EIF plays a pivotal role in supporting European micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) by facilitating access to finance. Its mission aligns with EU objectives to bolster innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

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