The EU is to provide a further €6 million for the development of SMEs in Belarus over the next four years – with a special emphasis on innovative startups and women in business.
“We would like to support innovative fledgling companies and small enterprises, and women who are engaged in business under the very good Women in Business project launched this year,” said Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the EU Delegation in Minsk. She was speaking at a press conference marking five years of work in Belarus by the Small Business Initiative of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The Small Business Initiative (SBI), which receives grants from the EU under the EU4Business initiative, provides loans and investments through financial institutions and risk-sharing facilities, as well as financing small businesses directly. It has supported 250 private SMEs in Belarus since 2011, distributing €3.2 million and helping to create more than 1,500 jobs.
The SBI has yielded good results and made a tangible contribution to the development of the Belarusian market for consulting services, commented Ms Wiktorin. More than 80 local experts have undergone practical courses to develop consulting skills.
EU4Business works with the EBRD, among other institutions, to help the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, including Belarus, develop effective policies for SMEs.
Working with local consultants, the small business support programme helps companies meet the required technical standards and provides advice on how to run a business efficiently, apply best practices and prepare business plans.