Tag Archives: smes

On 17 November, Yerevan hosted  the 8th Eastern Partnership (EaP) Informal Ministerial Dialogue. Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and Carlos Moedas, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, were in Armenia to take part in the event. The meeting focused on strengthening the cooperation of the EaP countries with the European Union in science and innovation and prospects for multilateral cooperation.

2A session on research, science and innovation was hosted by Levon Mkrtchyan, the Armenian Minister of Education and Science. During the session, Commissioners Hahn and Moedas launched the #EU4Innovation initiative for EaP countries. This initiative focuses EU support on reinforcing EaP countries’ capacities for innovation, especially those funded through HORIZON2020 or the European Neighbourhood Instrument.

The meeting was held during an extremely important time for Armenia as the agreement associating Armenia to HORIZON2020 entered into force on 12 November 2016. This agreement allows researchers and innovators from Armenia to have full access to HORIZON2020, the EU’s research and innovation funding programme, under the same conditions as their counterparts from EU member states and other associated countries.
Same day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia hosted foreign ministers of EaP countries, which was also attended by Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and  Jean-Christophe Belliard, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service.During these discussions, ministers discussed developments and achievements following the Riga summit and expressed their expectations of the upcoming summit in 2017.

3This meeting was followed by a press conference. Hahn noted the constructive and open nature of discussions: ‘This is the 8th time that we have gathered in this format – and we have many other  opportunities to meet. This meeting has allowed us to review EaP implementation. There are a lot of agreements, but it’s time to implement and to make things visible for citizens. That’s why, during the summit in Riga, we decided to group different topics into in four areas to be more visible. The first is, of course, extensive support to EaP countries; we believe that economic development is crucial for increasing welfare, prosperity and stable business in the region. The aim of the next couple of years is to support more than 10,000 SMEs – they are the backbone of the economy. We will not only support existing SMEs, but also promote conditions to enable start-ups to thrive’.

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The European Union regards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone of economic resilience in Armenia.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Armenia’s Central Bank signed an agreement on 18 November to support the Armenian economy. According to the agreement, EIB will provide a second €50 million loan to the Central Bank for various SME projects. The first loan, which was provided through the #EU4Business initiative,has already been disbursed.
A conference on “EU Support to Small and Medium Business in Armenia through EIB” was also held in Yerevan on 18 December. Piotr Świtalski, the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Jan Vapaavuori, the Vice President of the European Investment Bank, and Nerses Yeritsyan, the Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of the Republic of Armenia all spoke at the event.

2Ambassador Świtalski highlighted the importance of SMEs for Armenia: ‘The European Union will do its utmost to help Armenia to develop further, and to build a modern and reformed economy. SMEs are the backbone of economic resilience in Armenia from our perspective. Those who have heard me before know that I sometimes quote OECD figures on the role of SMEs in Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. The figures reveal the huge, yet unused, potential of SMEs – Armenia ranks last among EaP regarding SMEs. In the EU,SMEs provide for 70 percent of employment and GDP contribution. In some countries it is as much as 90 percent. Armenia lags at around 30 percent, which shows us how much work needs to be done’.

3Vice President Vapaavuori built on Ambassador Świtalski’s support for SMEs and highlighted the role of European Investment Bank:  ‘EIB is the world’s biggest public bank, directly owned by all 28 EU member states. As a public bank, our mission is not to maximise profit but to contribute to EU policy goals for economic growth within EU states and in neighbouring countries. I come from a small country, Finland, and know that, in small countries, economies are often dependent on a few sectors and big factories.  In order to create sustainable growth you need to pay attention to SMEs’.

4Deputy Chairman Yeritsyan welcomed the EU’s support to promote SME development in Armenia: ‘We have come to this conference with a concrete decision. SMEs are the basis of our economy, the only way to build a viable economy. It’s a double honour for me to be here, because I have been involved in various EU and EIB programmes since 2007. I am glad that EIB is implementing at least a dozen projects in different sectors of our economy’.

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’.