Romania joined the group of EU Member States that want to improve the business environment for SMEs, after the European Commission (EC) has adopted on Tuesday the “SME Initiative” Operational Programme for Romanian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 2014-2020, worth EUR 100 million, a press release informs.
The value of the investment provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the form of guarantees is expected to quadruple to EUR 400 million, thanks to the leverage effect of private investment in SME loans.
“In a country where SMEs represent over 99 percent of the total number of enterprises and face serious needs of external financing, this programme supports them in order to access loan products in better conditions. This initiative will also enable SMEs to be more innovative and competitive and to grow on regional, national and international markets,” European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu stated.
The SME Initiative for Romania is the fourth of its kind to be adopted for 2014-2020, encouraging Member States to make use of this joint initiative, developed by the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to boost access to finance for Europe’s cash-strapped small businesses.
A 2013 ex ante assessment of the EU SME Initiative outlines the findings of a survey on access to finance for small and medium-sized companies, assessing the difficulties in accessing external finance and estimating the amount of loans that firms would need but cannot obtain from the banking system. It shows that for a large share of Romanian SMEs the access to finance represents their greatest concern.
A recent additional assessment performed for Romania estimates the funding gap of external financing for SMEs at around EUR 3.4 billion until 2020, covering the need of various types of financial instruments (guarantees, risk sharing loans, micro-crediting, equity investments).