From greening their business to training the next generation of entrepreneurs, from funding SMEs to bringing an ailing company back from the brink, some players on the local market defied the tough trading conditions to shine in 2015. This year’s Business Review Awards celebrate these high achievers. Who are they, and what did they do?
Judging criteria: amount of financial commitment and lending terms; innovative character of the financial product or service; the impact of the product/service within the target (number of customers).
Banca Transilvania for “All for IMM also in 2015”
In 2015, BT provided over 20,000 loans for SMEs customers. Overall, about 177,000 SMEs are BT clients, representing 40 percent of the SMEs active in Romania, according to its data.
In 2015, it rolled out the “All for IMM also in 2015” campaign, with 12 months free BT services for SMEs and entrepreneurs as individuals, it launched a dedicated offer for Romanian companies who provide products and services “Made in Romania” and offered loans with low interest and low fees for SMEs that invest in Romanian products and services. It also came with solutions for startups such as “First Year Free”.
The Bucharest Stock Exchange for AeRO.
AeRO is an alternative solution for financing SMEs and startups, launched and developed by the Bucharest Stock Exchange in 2015. It is a market segment designed for listing of early stage companies, startups and SMEs, to finance their projects, growth stories, increase their visibility and contribute to the development of the business environment.
The aim of AeRO is to facilitate the acquisition of capital for companies with a high growth potential that are at an early stage of development. AeRO enables the companies access to finance via the capital market.
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for its ongoing support of SMEs
Using funds provided by its donor, Austria, the EBRD generated 66 consultancy projects in 2015, committing EUR 530,000 as grants to SMEs. Moreover, 38 consultants were trained in its “Grow Your Consulting Business” courses, and 44 new consultants joined its local network. EBRD evaluates each year the progress of companies that have benefitted from its support and while the institution doesn’t yet have the results for 2015, on average within a year of a project, 72 percent of the SMEs that EBRD works with in Romania increase their turnover (with a median increase of 26 percent), 62 percent improve their productivity, as they expand their business, 61 percent see significant job creation and 12 percent secure external funding to finance their growth, with over EUR 17 million euro secured so far in total.
The European Investment Fund for the JEREMIE Initiative
The JEREMIE initiative supports access to finance for SMEs by developing financial instruments for SMEs funded with structural funds. The rationale behind the program is the continuing market failure in SME financing, particularly since the the financial crisis. As of the end of 2015, the JEREMIE initiative had a total budget of EUR 225 million and has provided over EUR 500 million in new loans and investments to Romanian SMEs.
Libra Internet Bank for the COSME program
Libra Internet Bank signed an agreement with the European Investment Fund (EIF) in 2015 which enables SMEs to access loans with a 50 percent guarantee backed by the EU through the COSME program. Libra Internet Bank was the first Romanian bank to sign such an agreement with COSME which enabled 1,650 SMEs to access loans of up to EUR 150,000 with a 50 percent guarantee and who will not pay any guarantee fees.
Here are the other categories from the BR Awards: Community Involvement, Online Strategy for Business Development, Innovation in Technology, Best Startup Supporter, Best Turnaround Strategy, Best Employment Initiative, Entrepreneur of the Year, Deal of the Year, Business Leader of the Year, Excellence in Business, Best International Expansion.