The European Investment Fund, part of the EIB Group, signed a counter-guarantee agreement with the Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund (KCGF) under COSME – EU’s programme supporting the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is the first transaction in Kosovo under this EU financial instrument which enhances the SMEs’ access to finance.
The programme will be implemented by the Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund and it will strengthen its capacity to support more risky SMEs in Kosovo. Thanks to the COSME counter-guarantee, the supported SME debt financing volume is expected to reach EUR 90 million over a period of two years. KCGF already cooperates with the majority of the banks on the local market and COSME would be able to reach out more than 2,200 SMEs in the entire territory of Kosovo. The maximum principal amount of the COSME supported debt financing would be EUR 150,000 targeting mainly micro and small businesses.
KCGF is the first applicant from Kosovo with an approved transaction under the COSME Loan Guarantee Facility. The volume of supported loans for SMEs is expected to reach up to EUR 90,000,000 over a period of two years. The total amount of loans approved by commercial banks which work with the Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund and that have been filed under the guarantee coverage has already reached 107.5 million euros distributed over 2,794 loans, while the investments made with these loans promised over 4,035 new jobs.
The Programme is complementary to existing EU financial support aimed at SMEs sector in Kosovo and aims to facilitate access to finance in all phases of lifecycle. As a further step into the implementation of the COSME programme, the EU has encouraged the Kosovo side to undertake further action in preparing its application for the Enterprise Europe Network. Kosovo entrepreneurs are also expected to apply to COSME Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs – a cross-border exchange scheme which aims to help new entrepreneurs acquire relevant skills by working with an experienced entrepreneur in another country for one to six months.
At a broader scale, EU Office has recently funded two actions with the total amount of €10 million that would support SMEs in accessing finance and helping increase their competitiveness and sustainability. The EU has also been supporting the business sector in Kosovo through grant schemes for municipalities, and other public and non-governmental institutions for business development and small scale business related infrastructure. In addition, the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility has a key role at improving access to finance for business owners in Kosovo through the Enterprise Expansion Fund and the Guarantee Facility which provided over €55 million to Kosovo providing loans at preferential conditions.
Why is it a good practice?
Small and medium-sized enterprises form the backbone of Kosovo’s economy. With the prospect of more international economic cooperation and pressures on growth – including competition from emerging markets – the competitiveness of local SMEs hinge on enhancing Kosovo products through more access to finance, innovation and expansion to export markets.