EBRD, EU and Republic of Cyprus strengthen small business support

By Lucia Sconosciuto

Deepening the cooperation between the EBRD and Cyprus, EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and the Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism of the Republic of Cyprus, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, have signed a €2.2 million agreement to strengthen small business (SME) support to increase competitiveness and growth potential.

The agreement was signed on the final day of the 2017 EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Nicosia today.

The €2.2 million set aside for small business support come from EU Structural and Investment Funds, made available by the Republic of Cyprus. It is the first agreement of its kind between the EBRD and one of its countries of operations within the EU.

The funding will serve to extend and expand the EBRD Advice for Small Businesses programme in the Republic of Cyprus for an additional three years. It will boost the sector, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of employment in the country.

As part of the EBRD Small Business Initiative, the programme will assist SMEs to access business advice to improve their competitiveness and boost their growth. Supporting women entrepreneurship and promoting trade will be a focus under the programme, which introduces new and innovative services including, mentoring, training and coaching.

The EBRD expanded its operations to Cyprus on a temporary basis in late 2014 to support economic recovery following a crisis in the country’s banking and financial sector. Among these activities, the Bank has to date employed approximately €2.5 million of donor funding from the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund and the EU to support more than 60 small enterprises access a wide range of consulting services from strategy and marketing to export promotion and energy efficiency.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “I am delighted to be signing this agreement with the Republic of Cyprus here in Nicosia during the EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum 2017. Small and medium-sized enterprises are vital to generate economic growth in Cyprus and the EBRD is contributing to this effort through our Small Business Initiative.”

“SME development is one of the top priorities for the Republic of Cyprus. Boosting their competitiveness and promoting women entrepreneurship are very important to long term growth for the country and we are very pleased to partner in this effort with the EBRD,” added Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism of the Republic of Cyprus.

The EBRD invests in Cyprus on a temporary mandate until 2020. To date, the Bank has invested mote than €220 million in various sectors of the economy, including the financial sector, trade finance, small business support and renewable sources of energy.