EU Launches EU4Business Facility Phase III

Armenia Azerbaijan Georgia Moldova Ukraine
EU Launches EU4Business Facility Phase III

The European Union has launched the EU4Business Facility Phase III to support sustainable and equitable economic growth of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

GOPA Worldwide Consultants, a German-based leader in development consultancy will manage the initiative for the upcoming four years.

The EU4Business Facility tracks the performance and impact of EU projects supporting the private sector and SMEs in the EaP countries. It will regularly and comprehensively monitor EU projects that assist private sector development in the EaP region, assess the impact and outcomes of EU4Business regional and bilateral projects, as well as enhance the visibility and outreach of EU support. The main objective is to improve coordination with projects under the EU4Business initiative supporting SMEs and engage key stakeholders, such as entrepreneurs, IFIs, government agencies, educational institutions, and others. The EU4Business Initiative aims to increase investments and create better socio-economic conditions, ultimately providing more employment and income-earning opportunities for the private sector, including support to women entrepreneurs, businesses in rural areas, young entrepreneurs, the green transition of businesses, and access to finance.

SMEs play a vital role in the economies of EaP countries, making the EU support an important factor in fostering their growth and contributing to overall economic development. With the exception of Azerbaijan, these SMEs employ over 60% of the workforce and account for more than 50% of the national output. In Ukraine, notwithstanding the current conflict, SMEs are the dominant force in the business sector, comprising 99.97% of all businesses. They play a pivotal role in the country's recovery from Russia’s war of aggression by contributing approximately 64.1% of the value added to the domestic economy.

At the same time limited access to finance, burdensome legislation, and difficulties in entering new markets continue to hinder the progress of SMEs in EaP countries.

EU4Business interventions actively contribute to job creation and preservation, stimulate robust growth in SMEs, as well as facilitating the expansion of SME exports, helping them to overcome these challenges.

In 2021, the EU4Business Initiative offered support to 78,045 SMEs, leading to outstanding results. The SMEs supported generated an extra €2.03 billion of income and facilitated the creation of 66,678 new jobs. SMEs supported experienced a notable growth in turnover (+26.23%), and a boost in exports (+11.2%). This was well ahead of the performance of SMEs that did not seek EU4Business help.

Investing in competitive and innovative economies with an objective to support 500,000 SMEs in EaP region remains a part of the EU’s TOP 10 targets for 2025 with the highest transformational impact for citizens and businesses. In a concerted effort to bolster SMEs in the EaP countries, various stakeholders are joining forces to provide essential resources and further strengthen the framework. This joint work is underpinned by the extensive support from the EU provided through the EU4Business Initiative, and the EU remains committed to continuing this support to the private sector.

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