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PODGORICA (Montenegro), July 11 (SeeNews) - The European Investment Fund (EIF) said on Wednesday it signed a 30 million euro ($35.2 million) InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility agreement with Erste Bank in Montenegro to support innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps.
The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility, which will cover 50% of loans, is the first in Montenegro and will enable Erste Bank to provide loans to innovative companies over the next two years, the EIF said in a statement.
"Prosperity in Montenegro is a win for the country as well as for the EU. These loans to innovative SMEs and small mid-caps, backed by Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, will, in turn, create growth and jobs in Montenegro, giving a major boost to the economy," the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, said.
The aim of the InnovFin SME Guarantee is to encourage banks or other financial institutions to lend to SMEs and small mid-caps in need of investment and/or working capital to finance research, development and innovation activities, with EU financial support.
"The InnovFin agreement is of great importance for Erste Bank since it enables us to open new opportunities and further improve the financing model for SMEs. Thanks to this guarantee scheme, healthy and innovative initiatives will have access to finance on more favourable terms. Small and medium-sized enterprises are drivers of growth and development. Therefore, I expect that 30 million euro of credit support under the InnovFin agreement will substantially contribute to the new wave of investments within this segment of the economy," Erste Bank CEO Aleksa Lukic said.
The agreement allows Erste Bank in Montenegro to increase financing for SMEs and small mid-caps, which will be instrumental in supporting an innovation agenda in the country, delivering new products and services, the CEO of EIF, Pier Luigi Gilibert, added.
The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility is established under the “EU InnovFin Finance for Innovators” initiative backed by Horizon 2020. It provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between 25,000 euro and 7.5 million euro in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative SMEs and small mid-caps.
($ = 0.853155 euro)