- The EIF and Raiffeisen banka a.d. Beograd will deploy COSME guarantees supporting €60 million of loans for small and medium-sized Serbian businesses
- The agreement introduces two new specific guarantee envelopes under the COSME programme in Serbia – COSME Digitalisation Pilot
- This is the first agreement signed in Serbia under the COSME Digitalisation Pilot guarantee
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Serbia will have the opportunity to finance their growth and business development plans, and digital transformation as the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Raiffeisen banka a.d. Beograd have agreed to cover new SME loans for up to €60 million. The loan guarantees are provided by the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programme, launched by the European Commission to improve access to finance for SMEs.
The EIF and COSME guarantees allow Raiffeisen banka to offer a new, more flexible credit line to Serbian SMEs with increased maturities and fewer collateral requirements to finance their working capital and investments. The agreement introduces two new guarantee initiatives under the COSME Loan Guarantee Facility in Serbia including COSME Digitalisation, designed to help SMEs and digitalise their business operations. The guarantees unlock new sources of financing for Serbia at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is burdening SMEs with liquidity issues and restricting their ability to access finance, maintain daily operations and fund expansion plans.
Alain Godard, Chief Executive of the EIF, said: “We are pleased to provide the first portfolio guarantee for Serbia under the COSME financial instrument to support the COVID-19 recovery efforts and digitalisation of the economy. The digital transition is one of the strategic goals of the European Union and this guarantee scheme is an important step towards creating more resilient, sustainable and connected markets. These guarantees will enable our local partner, Raiffeisen Bank, to reach out to companies with limited access to finance, such as technology startups, which are the driving force of innovation and competitiveness.”
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, stated: “The COSME COVID-19 support is already available in more than 20 European countries. We are pleased that with today’s agreement heavily affected small and medium-sized companies in Serbia get access to additional liquidity for their recovery. We are also fully committed to mobilising financing for SMEs to master the digital transformation, which is at the heart of our SME strategy.”
Zoran Petrović, CEO of Raiffeisen banka a.d. Beograd, said: “A main focus of our operations is investing in digital transformation and tehcnology development, as to achieve a sufficient level of digitalisation, all participants on the market are required to transform their businesses in line with reshaped social needs. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises – as a backbone of the economy and its most sensitive part, particularly in the challenging times that we are facing now – are essential to retaining and increasing economic growth. Therefore, it is our pleasure to take part in this important programme with our longstanding partners from Europe, with whom we share mutual values and views on direction in which the Serbian economy should be progressing. Investing in small businesses and facilitating their digital transformation is the best possible path for devleopment, and our bank will be able to support them with favaourble credit lines, thanks to this guarantee scheme.”
To date, the EIB Group has invested €2.1 billion for Serbian small and medium-sized companies, which has helped to sustain over 320 000 jobs.