The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Croatian branch of Erste&Steiermaerkische Bank signed two loan agreements on Monday - one to strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises and the other to encourage investment in the energy efficiency of residential buildings in Croatia, the EBRD said in a statement.
A credit line of EUR 20 million will provide Erste Bank with additional sources of financing to support small and medium enterprises which considerably contribute to the country's economic recovery and for which access to finance is still a challenge, according to the statement.
An additional EUR 10 million will be provided as part of Erste's EUR 60 million Croatia Residential Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (CroSEFF) aimed at improving residential building energy efficiency.
By signing these agreements, Erste Bank became the first bank in Croatia to join the CroSEFF programme.
The EBRD's Director for Croatia, Vedrana Jelusic Kasic, said that these two initiatives were important for achieving sustainable development. "The credit lines will support the competitiveness of the private sector, which mostly comprises small businesses, and will help adopt a better attitude towards energy, which will lead to considerable energy savings and alleviate the impact on the environment," she said.
Erste's Management Board Chairman, Christoph Schoefboeck, said that small and medium enterprises were generators of economic growth and as such one of the most important segments in the bank's business strategy.
Erste Bank is the third largest bank in Croatia, with a market share of 15 per cent. Over the last three years it has successfully carried out three projects - a credit line for financing micro, small and medium enterprises, a credit line for sustainable energy under the Western Balkans Sustainable Energy Finance Facility (WeBSEFF), and has joined the EBRD's Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) in promoting foreign trade operations and regional trade.
The EBRD has invested about EUR 3.22 billion in 178 projects in Croatia since the country became independent in the early 1990s.