Home Finance EBRD Youth in Business program launched in Albania

EBRD Youth in Business program launched in Albania

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  • Union Bank will receive 1 million euros to be retroceded to SMEs owned or managed by entrepreneurs under 35 years old

  • Sweden, Italy and Luxembourg provided funds to support capacity building, business advice and training for young entrepreneurs.

  • Albania becomes the fifth Western Balkan country to benefit from the program, after Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) launches its Youth in Business program in Albania. It will support the financial inclusion of young entrepreneurs by helping them overcome barriers to accessing finance and providing them with advisory services.

Union Bank will receive a loan of one million euros to be on-lent to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned or managed by entrepreneurs under 35 years old. The project will also strengthen Union Bank’s capacity to better understand and respond to this group of businesses. , helping the bank establish its own unique business model for engaging with young entrepreneurs.

Young entrepreneurs will have access to financing and overcome barriers created by insufficient collateral, limited credit history and lack of business experience. They will benefit from capacity building activities, including advice on digitalization of business processes, training in digital solutions and tools, and the development of personalized digital roadmaps. In this way, the program aims to empower young entrepreneurs and demonstrate that youth-led SMEs can be a bankable segment when offered financial and non-financial products tailored to their needs.

Ekaterina Solovova, EBRD Director for Albania, said: “We are proud to launch our Youth in Business program in Albania, reaffirming our support for the country. This is a great opportunity to empower young entrepreneurs, who play a crucial role in the present and, most importantly, the future of Albania. We believe that by introducing a unique business model and providing a product tailored to their needs, young entrepreneurs will thrive and embark on the path that leads to a more financially inclusive and prosperous future.

Union Bank is a long-standing client of the EBRD, having been a shareholder from 2008 to 2021.

Union Bank Managing Director Flutura Veipi added: “We are delighted to collaborate with the EBRD to support young entrepreneurs. Youth is a priority segment for Union Bank and we strive to offer young people attractive banking services that meet their distinct needs. We believe that the banking sector has a crucial role to play in the development of young entrepreneurs and we are committed to doing our part by providing tailored financial services. Furthermore, we aim to address the challenges that young entrepreneurs face within our financial advisory capacity and support their future development by providing them with non-financial services, thus having a positive impact on the economy in which we let’s operate.

Funding for the program in the form of technical cooperation funds was provided by the governments of Sweden, Italy via the Central European Initiative And Luxembourg via the EBRD Small Business Impact Fund. These funds will support capacity building, advisory services and training for young SME managers.

The EBRD’s Western Balkans Young Entrepreneurs program plans to provide a total of €100 million to local banks in the region over the coming years. In addition to financing, the Bank will provide advisory services in the form of consultancy projects, e-learning and training, all with a view to fostering youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion.

The loan to Union Bank makes Albania the fifth Western Balkan country to join the Youth in Business program. Kosovo was the first to be part of the program, later joined by Serbia, Bosnia HerzegovinaAnd Montenegro. Similar credit lines have already been successfully deployed in Egypt.

A leading institutional investor in Albania, the EBRD has to date invested €2 billion in more than 140 projects in the country.

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