The European Union (EU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are boosting their support for underserved micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Eastern Partnership and Southern neighbourhood countries. Furthermore, they are increasing available finance to develop broadband infrastructure and services in these areas.
Agreements on two EU financial guarantees, totalling as much as €150 million, were signed in the margins of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington, DC. They are expected to complement at least €500 million in EBRD finance, as well as additional investment by commercial lenders and other private-sector investors.
The first financial guarantee of up to €115 million will support partner financial institutions in on-lending to underserved MSMEs, in particular, women- or youth-led businesses, those located in rural areas and others previously facing challenges in accessing finance.
A second financial guarantee, worth up to €35 million, will support investments including high-quality and reliable broadband services. This is a key priority for both the EU and the EBRD. It will support the EU’s new Global Gateway strategy and be implemented through Economic and Investment Plans. The guarantee should help to develop digital economies, so that people and businesses can fully benefit from new economic and employment opportunities.
The EU is providing the guarantees through its European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) Guarantee Programme, which supports financing and investment operations in partner countries. It supports EBRD operations in the Southern neighbourhood region (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza), as well as Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). EU guarantees also support economies affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “I am delighted that negotiations have been successfully concluded on these two new guarantee agreements, which will benefit those who need our help the most – women, young people and those outside major population centres – and ultimately everyone, through better access to digital services. Together with our key partner, the European Union, we continue to deliver on our common goal to build better lives, businesses and economies across our regions.”
Katarina Mathernova, Deputy Director General at the EU, stated: “With these two additional guarantee agreements supporting financial inclusion and digital transformation, the EU and the EBRD will continue to deliver on our joint commitment to improve people’s lives in our partner countries. I am particularly pleased that underserved businesses and high-quality broadband services will be able to benefit from the financing opportunities made available today, thus contributing to the objectives of the Economic and Investment Plans for the EU Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood, which implement the EU’s Global Gateway.”
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- 14 Deireadh Fómhair 2022
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