Official Launch of Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility


The Innovation Fund on behalf of the Republic of Serbia coordinated the preparation of WB EDIF in cooperation with international partners, which was adopted at the meeting of the Western Balkans Investment Framework Steering Committee, held in Luxembourg on December 7, 2011. One of the major international partners on this Project is the European Investment Fund (EIF).

A novel and comprehensive set of complementary measures for improving access to finance for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and helping economic development in the Western Balkans, is to be launched on 5 December 2012.

The Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) is to promote the emergence and growth of innovative and high-potential companies, as well as the creation of a regional Venture Capital market. The 145 million EUR of initial capital pulled together under this Facility by the EU, international financial institutions (IFIs), beneficiaries and bilateral donors will effectively translate into over EUR 300 million of direct financing for SMEs in the region.

The Facility will be coordinated by the European Investment Fund and implemented in close cooperation between the governments of the Western Balkans, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. IFIs, international organisations and bilateral donors active in the region, such as Italy, World Bank, DEG, OECD and others are invited to participate in order to streamline the efforts to develop the private sector in the Western Balkans.

WB EDIF will include four components aiming at:

  • early to development stage equity financing in innovative SMEs; this will be done by a newly created Enterprise Innovation Fund (ENIF);
  • provision of development and expansion capital to established high-growth potential SMEs; this will be done by a newly created Enterprise Expansion Fund (ENEF);
  • improvement of SME’s access to bank lending and lowering the cost of borrowing, by providing SME loan portfolio guarantees to financial intermediaries; this will be done under a regional Guarantee Facility;
  • creation of a favourable regulatory environment for innovative and high-potential SMEs; this will be done through a Technical Assistance Facility supporting beneficiary governments in implementation of priority reforms.

This is the first regional initiative in the private sector development area channelled through the Western Balkan Investment Framework. It will be launched back-to-back with the seventh WBIF Steering Committee meeting hosted by the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) in Paris.