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EBRD supports youth entrepreneurship in the Western Balkans

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has launched its Youth in Business programme in the Western Balkans by extending loans to Banca Intesa and microfinance institution Mi-Bospo at a formal event in Belgrade. The Bank is providing Banca Intesa with a €15 million loan and Mi-Bospo with a €500,000 loan for on-lending to young entrepreneurs. The partner financial institutions will also benefit from technical assistance to better support and respond to the needs of their younger market segment.

The EBRD has committed to providing €100 million to financial institutions in the six Western Balkans economies over the next five years to support youth entrepreneurship.

Despite their potential for innovation, young entrepreneurs continue to face obstacles in accessing credit lines and expertise to grow their businesses. The programme aims to address these market gaps by providing a comprehensive package of financial and technical assistance for youth-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

In addition to finance, the programme engages with young business owners and managers, giving them access to tailored advisory services to help them develop new skills, improve business performance and unlock new growth opportunities. The advisory support is backed by the governments of Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and Italy, through the Central European Initiative.

Facilitating other non-financial opportunities for youth, including mentoring, networking and access to educational resources, fills an underserved need in the marketplace and aims to build leadership capacity.