Tag Archives: EBRD

On 7 March the “Women in Business” programme (WiB) was launched in Armenia to promote women’s entrepreneurship and support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) led by women. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union, the Early Transition Countries Fund and the Government of Sweden are funding this programme in Eastern Partnership countries. Armenia is one of the first countries to start WiB.
The programme will help women-led SMEs to access the finance and advice they need to grow, offer financing through local partner financial institutions, provide technical assistance for participating financial institutions, and impart business advice to women entrepreneurs. The programme also envisages individual advisory service projects, which will include mentoring and longer-term coaching. The EBRD is currently implementing WiB in 16 countries.
The EBRD made an initial contribution of $55 million, the Government of Sweden has allocated approximately €5.2 million, €4.5 million has been made available from the European Union Neighbourhood Investment Facility, and €0.9 million has also been provided by the EBRD’s Early Transition Countries Fund.
The Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the ERBD’s Head of Armenia Resident Office, Mark Davis, attended the WiB launch.

ARS_0336 Ambassador Świtalski highlighted the importance of women in all spheres of life: ‘We continuously support the empowerment of women, strengthening their role in politics, business and other spheres of life. We have supported and implemented different projects in different areas, in different regions. I am very happy that today we are continuing this tradition. I am very happy that Armenia is one of the first countries to benefit from this programme. We hope very much that we’ll be able to achieve the objectives and that the impact of SMEs in Armenia will increase. In this aspect, Armenia is lagging behind. Therefore, I hope this programme will be successful. Armenia is in the midst of an election period, so we are also supporting increased roles for women in politics. We encourage women not to be afraid to be active in politics, business and other spheres’.

ARS_0292Davis mentioned that if women-led SMEs were given equal opportunities, they could deliver in terms of economic performance and job creation: ‘There is a saying that a man is the head of the family and a woman is the neck. I believe that women can do a lot more. Armenia is ranked 102th among 144 countries in the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index, the lowest figure in the region. This figure highlights why women’s business comes such a fundamental focus of EBRD’.

On the eve of 8 March, Ambassador Świtalski concluded the day by meeting Euroclub members in Yerevan, where he congratulated women on the occasion of International Women’s Day. They had an informal discussion on various topics, particularly women’s and gender issues.

The European Union promotes secure, competitive, and sustainable energy in its member states. In 2015, the Framework Strategy for Energy Union was launched as one of the European Commission’s 10 Priorities. The aim of strategy is providing secure, sustainable, competitive, and affordable energy. The EU also supports the energy sector in its neighbourhood.
The EU supports many projects in Armenia to ensure its commitment to sustainable energy development and to boost the country’s potential for renewable energy and energy security. The EU, together with its partners and the Government of Armenia, has long supported a large number of reforms and projects. Their aim is to help Armenian communities to take steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. The cooperation between the EU and Armenia aims to diversify energy resources in the country and make it less dependent on imported energy.
To highlight its strong partnership with Armenia in enhancing energy efficiency and renewable energy, the EU organised #EU4EnergyDays. From 26-29 September series of events were organised to highlight the impact of EU-funded renewable, alternative and sustainable energy programmes that contribute to policy development and best practice exchange in Armenia. All of the events held had different topics and were attended by a wide range of beneficiaries and stakeholders.

Energy efficiency in Armenia
The EU supports renewable energy, energy security and efficiency reforms in Armenia to benefit its citizens. A public discussion on ‘Residential energy efficiency in Armenia’ was the first the EU4Energy Day event. Discussions covered the Armenian government’s approach to residential energy efficiency and saving, and current challenges to residential investment. The event was organised as part of the EU-funded “Access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak” project. This project will implement energy-saving and -efficiency measures, such as upgrades and new insulation in roofs, doors, windows and building envelopes in 45 residential buildings – 27 in Spitak and 19 in Vayk, including the Vayk House of Culture. 145 photovoltaic solar panels will be installed to address lighting system upgrades for the entrances, staircases and courtyards of selected residential buildings.
img_0368The EU’s support also extends to businesses. In times of rising energy prices, efficiency is a priority. Energocredit, a programme of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development funded by the EU and the Austrian Ministry of Finance, helps individuals and businesses to find the right measures to reduce energy consumption and to finance energy efficient investment. An energy-efficiency forum was organised to discuss how to apply, how to benefit from and how to build more a sustainable, competitive economy in Armenia. Energocredit provides loans for companies to invest in efficient equipment in various sectors and industries such as agriculture, construction, production, transport, and many others supporting businesses to cut energy use and costs.
_mg_0444_1The Head of Cooperation section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, attended the forum. He stressed EU support for energy efficiency: ‘Energy efficiency and renewable energy are crucial parts of the EU’s commitment to mitigate global warming. We believe that the Armenian government will launch incentives for energy-efficient investment and the EU will support the government and Armenian citizens to promote efficiency and independent use of alternative energy resources’.

Within the energy week a workshop was organised to review and discuss the current state and development trends of the national energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RES) policy in Armenia. Participants explored lessons learned, as well as the role of innovation in promoting EE/RES, and came up with policy recommendations to promote EU cooperation in this field. This event brought together research and industry representatives motivated to explore possible cooperation on innovation and technology transfer in EE/RES through the EU-funded Horizon 2020 programme.

Workshops and seminars on energy efficiency and alternative energy

A series of workshops and lectures were held in Yerevan to on how to use energy efficiently, and alternative energy and heating sources in Armenia.
img_9413American University in Armenia held a three-day workshop on rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems with Professor Peter Gevorkian, a leading expert in solar power generation and author of several technical books on the subject. The workshop was aimed at providing the technological know-how to build Armenia’s solar power-generation capacity, solar PV system design and construction, risk management, and economic assessment.
One more event, ‘Green talks’, focused on the benefits of PV panels and alternative energy. Two field experts gave presentations on how to produce solar energy efficiently. However, alternative energy comes not only from the PV panels. Another seminar, ‘How to save energy: farmers and producers’, investigated how biomass could be useful for rural communities in Armenia and how farmers could benefit.
img_1555Interested parties from Europe and Armenia gathered in Ashtarak to discuss how energy cooperatives could work in Armenia. The aim was to develop alternative, gender-sensitive, and feasible business models for renewable energy and energy efficiency, both technically and with regard to current legal and economic conditions.
This EU4Energy four-day initiative featured panel discussions to raise awareness on residential energy efficiency, to communicate the achievements of and prospects for municipal energy savings, to have in-depth discussions on energy-efficiency policies and financing opportunities for the business sector, and to hold energy talks with schoolchildren.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a €8 million loan to Armenia to finance the construction of a solid waste landfill in Yerevan that complies with EU regulations. The EU will provide a matching grant of €8 million to the Republic of Armenia. A loan agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the EBRD was signed on 11 December 2015. Ambassador Piotr Switalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, attended the ceremony.
ARS_9756The new landfill will meet international standards and operate as a commercially sustainable unit. It will have modern solid-waste management systems and cover the collection and disposal of municipal solid waste. The facility, located on the outskirts of Yerevan, will provide major environmental and social benefits for the 1.1 million residents of the Armenian capital.
On the same day, Amabassador Switalski attended the signing ceremony of another loan agreement. This agreement is for €83 million for a project to be implemented by KfW, the Republic of Armenia, and High Voltage Electric Networks CJSC – the “Caucasus transmission network III (Project phase 2)” programme. The EU will provide a grant of €10 million to the Republic of Armenia to support this initiative.
12346440_935354769851786_3994090970218893544_nThe loan will have a 15-year repayment period, 5 of which are preferential. Loan funds are going to be used in Ddmashen to build a substation and transmission lines, to rehabilitate and reconstruct power grids, to operate equipment and machinery, and provide finances for consulting services during project preparation and implementation.

In a continuing effort to contribute to the development of sustainable infrastructure for local business advisory services, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) SME Finance and Development Group in Armenia, in collaboration with the Head of the Yerevan Resident Office, initiated the second tailor-made course on “Financial Investment Preparation”. This initiative again became possible through the European Union, the EBRD’s core donor in advisory support activities to support the development of sustainable private sector in Armenia, which brings international best practice and local know-how to local SMEs. During the press conference, which took place on 14 October, EBRD and EU representatives talked aboout the courses that will take place on 15-16 October in Yerevan.
The overall objective of the “Financial Investment Preparation” course is to increase demand for local consultancy services to prepare local enterprises for the various stages of financial investment and to increase shareholder value as a result of obtaining funding within the engagement spectrum. It will reflect the latest developments in financial products and instruments, and will facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills to local consultants.
ARS_3652Ludovic Ciechanowski, International Aid/Cooperation Officer in the EU Delegation in Armena, talked about the importance of EU’s support to SME development: ‘We are going to implement many programmes here in Armenia; all of them will be possible with our partners support. Investment is key in our cooperation with Armenia – this week we will launch a twinning project to support this sector further. For us it is very important to show that we stand here to support SMEs’.
ARS_3643Mark Davis, the Head of the Yerevan Resident Office, went into detail about what was required on the Armenian side: ‘More modern business processes, such as strong corporate governance, transparency, environmental and social policies, and investor relations are key in attracting junior forms of capital, including mezzanine and equity investments, as well as market instruments such as bonds and listed equity, which can provide the critical long-term capital firms need to grow and prosper’.
Taking into consideration the recent positive experience in the EU’s “SME Flagship Initiative”, the EBRD again invited Gavin Ryan to deliver the “Financial Investment Preparation” course to local consultants. Ryan is an international expert with over 25 years’ experience in the financial industry and private equity markets, and will share his expertise of exposing local SMEs to investment opportunities, allowing them to grow and become genuine catalysts for local economies.
Ryan gave more details on the course: ‘The training course is a practical one, based upon relevant experiences and cases from Central and Eastern European countries. We aim to equip SMEs and their consultants with the necessary skills to secure the financial resources for growth. This we will do by exploring equity and quasi-equity products on the marketplace. We will look at the positive actions an SME can take to position itself, such as corporate governance upgrading and good business planning’.

On 19 December a loan and grant agreement was signed between the Ministry of Finance and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) at the premises of Armenian Ministry of Finance. In accordance with the agreement the EBRD will provide a €3.5 million loan to the Armenian government within the framework of “Solid waste management programme in Kotayk Marz”. Additionally, the Minister of Finance Gagik Khachatryan and Head of the EBRD Mark Davis signed a €3.5 million grant agreement, which will be provided through the EU Neighbourhood Investment Instrument.

Within the scope of the programme another €1.07 million will be contributed as technical support. This programme aims at improving solid waste management in Kotayk marz and city of Sevan. During the implementation of the progarmme a new rubbish dump will be built and necessary equipment will be purchased that includes garbage collecting trucks, garbage containers. As a part of technical assistance a number of environmental and social supplementary researches, purchase assistance, etc.

On 22 October the European Union and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) organised a meeting concerning the ways of supporting local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to have access to finance and know-how.
The Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, stated that the development of SMEs was one of the EU’s main priorities in cooperation with countries like Armenia: ‘The EU’s Small Business Support Programmes, which have made this event possible, is specifically aimed at promoting and improving the work of SMEs here. This is only one of several projects and facilities that are available to Eastern Partnership countries thanks to the European Union’. Mark Davis, Head of the EBRD Yerevan Office, said: ‘It is necessary to develop a viable private sector in Armenia that will enhance the supply chain and exports’. To ensure the development of a strong private sector, the EBRD in Armenia is providing both finance and know-how to SMEs, including business advice in how to access finance.
Under the EU SME Flagship Initiative, the EBRD has invited Gavin Ryan, an international expert with over 25 years’ experience in the financial industry and private equity markets, to share his expertise on linking local SMEs to investment opportunities for growth and the possibility of becoming genuine catalysts for local economies. IMG_1354
Ryan delivered a course on management and investor factsheet preparation for SMEs to financial advisers on 23-24 October, during which he stated: ‘Both countries and companies are competing for the attention of investors. A quality factsheet should stand out, capture the attention of investors and make them curious to know more. It will do this only by both containing credible information and by presenting it well. I hope my course will help financial advisers to achieve this objective and thus better serve their clients’.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the EU organised a trade finance conference on 1 October at Elite Plaza Business Centre. It was aimed at increasing awareness and facilitating better access to trade finance instruments for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Armenia. The 2-day event gave opportunity for international experts to discuss the perspectives and challenges faced by local entrepreneurs in accessing trade finance in Armenia.

Head of the Cooperation Department of the EU Delegation in Armenia Hoa-Binh Adjemian spoke about the background of Armenia-EU cooperation: ‘The European Union has been one of the main donors for Armenia in recent years: we provided loans of approximately €50 million to develop the private sector. Currently, we are leveraging a €500 million worth programme in Armenia. After Armenia enters the [Eurasian] Customs Union, the EU will continue working with the private sector and help to develop the business climate. Various programmes implemented through EBRD have all been very fruitful; therefore, we will continue devising new ones’.

The conference gathered together a number of high-profile speakers as well as representatives from local SMEs, commercial banks and various business associations, who discussed the current trends in trade finance and the development needs of this sector. It also featured panel discussions, presentations and case studies of successful trade finance transactions in Armenia by invited experts, banks and SMEs. The conference was regarded a success by all participants, and two persons from EBRD and Armeconombank spoke positively about the experience and current relationships between the bank and the country.

The EBRD Director for Financial Institutions in Central Asia, Mike Taylor, talked about the recent cooperation between EBRD and Armenian partners: ‘The EBRD remains a committed partner to Armenia, paying special attention to supporting local SMEs, which play a leading role in the development of the trade sector. We would like more companies to be fully aware of all the financing options available to them and be in a position to use those alternatives’.
Armen Naljyan, Chief Executive Officer at Armeconombank, one of the lead sponsors of the event, presented the achievements they had achieved together: ‘After the EBRD entered the Armenian market, it gave rise to loaning system, training courses for professionals, new connections and overall development of the field’.