By Sara Israfilbayova
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has allocated over €294 million since the beginning of cooperation to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Azerbaijan.
The priority of lending is to support the diversification of the Azerbaijani economy beyond the energy sector, which is one of the main tasks of the EBRD in the country, the Bank reported on September 7.
Thousands of small businesses have acquired new skills, improved governance and invested to modernize and expand, thanks to the support of the EBRD and donors such as the European Union, Sweden, Taipei China and the EBRD Early Transition Country’s Fund.
"The EBRD has also provided €233 million in indirect finance, supporting an SME lending portfolio of banks reaching over 94,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises annually,” the report reads.
Moreover, more than 850 SMEs in Azerbaijan have received consulting assistance since 2003, including assistance to improve accounting, to enter new markets, and work under the Women in Business program, whose goal is to provide financial and consulting assistance to companies run by female entrepreneurs.
EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti is currently in Azerbaijan for meetings with the government. The discussions will focus on ways to further strengthen Azerbaijan’s economic performance.
The EBRD is an international financial institution founded in 1991. As a multilateral developmental investment bank, the EBRD uses investment as a tool to build market economies.
The Bank was established to support countries of the former Eastern Bloc in the process of establishing their private sectors. To that end, it offers "project financing" for banks, industries and businesses, for new ventures or existing companies.
The EBRD has allocated more than €3 billion to Azerbaijan for implementation of 160 projects since 1992.
One of the main priorities of the EBRD in Azerbaijan for 2017 is support the local corporates with direct financing. The EBRD continues to pursue investments in energy projects, especially where there is a gap to improve efficiency and energy security.
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