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The European Union (EU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided up to EUR 16 million to support the launch of the Amber Capital EU-Armenia SME Fund (the Fund), a private equity fund seeking to raise a total of EUR 70 million for investment in small and medium-sized enterprises in Armenia.
The Fund will be managed by Amber Capital, an international investment firm with an established office and team of professionals in Armenia, and will seek to build a diversified investment portfolio across sectors including renewable energy, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, information technology and logistics.
Through its equity investments, the Fund will seek to enhance the competitiveness of beneficiary SMEs including through improving corporate governance and transparency and helping them to internationalise.
The facility also includes capacity-building consultancy offered to local enterprises, through the EU-supported EBRD Advice for Small Businesses programme, to enhance the investment readiness and promote competitiveness of the SMEs.
“The EU is a key partner for economic development and prosperity in Armenia”, said Katarina Mathernova, Deputy Director-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission. “The EU is proud to be adding a new innovative tool to unleash the potential for SME development in Armenia, creating jobs and providing concrete benefits to the people. We are confident that the EU-Armenia SME Equity Fund will support the growth and competitiveness of the Armenian economy, attract foreign direct investment and help further develop innovation based on the talents of Armenians”.
“Armenian government has started building an innovative and inclusive economy, where small and medium-sized enterprises will play an important role. In this period of fundamental changes, the newly established EU-Armenia SME Equity Fund will contribute significantly to the economic advancement of the country and will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs”, said Tigran Avinyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia.
“Armenia has strong history of entrepreneurship and a huge entrepreneurial potential. We are excited to support the launch of this private equity fund that will help to diversify the financing opportunities available to SMEs. This project will also help to improve the investment climate and overall diversification of the economy. We are grateful to our long-standing partner, the EU for the strong support of this project”, said Matteo Patrone, EBRD managing director of Eastern Europe & Caucasus.
“We are very excited to be a part of this initiative, pioneering the concept of institutional private equity in Armenia. The Fund will bring together the best of the two worlds: the highest quality investor base and strategically important corporate clients to create strong and long-lasting partnerships. We aim to become a catalyst for change with the introduction of best corporate governance standards, technology transfer and development of capital markets”, said Anush Simonyan, CEO of Amber Capital Armenia.
The EU is the biggest provider of financial support and a key reform partner in Armenia that provides on average 1 million euro per week to contribute to a stronger governance, stronger economy, stronger connectivity and people to people contacts. With annual allocations of €40 million in grants, its current substantial portfolio focuses on supporting the reform agenda of the government, private sector development, education and regional development. In addition, since 2014 more than €1 billion in the form of blended loans and grants has been invested in the energy, agriculture and transport sectors.
The EBRD is the leading institutional investor in Armenia, active in all sectors of the economy. Since the start of its operations in Armenia in 1992, the EBRD has invested €1.36 billion in 178 projects in the country’s financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors, with 90 per cent of investments in the private sector.