UniCredit Bulbank provides the start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises with a financing opportunity at preferential terms under the Initiative for Small and Medium Enterprises. The Bank signed an Agreement with the European Investment Fund, amounting to 100 million euro, which will be offered to the business in Bulgaria within the next two years.
SMEs play an important role in the Bulgarian economy by creating new jobs and introducing innovation to the market. By starting the SME Initiative, UniCredit Bulbank will provide start-ups and small enterprises with valuable financial support, which will be useful for the country's economic development.
By this initiative, the Bank will provide the companies with opportunities to improve their competitiveness on a local level, to invest in research and development and innovations, as well as to realize their export potential on international markets. The products offered by UniCredit Bulbank as loans under the SME Initiative are at preferential terms and are suitable for a wide range of activities and for companies from different sectors of the economy.
The maximum allowed amount of the loans which UniCredit Bulbank will grant under this program is 5 million euro, where EIF guarantees 60% of every credit transaction.
The SME Initiative is a joint instrument of the European Commission, the European Investment Fund and the Bulgarian government, expressly designed to increase the financing of start-ups and small businesses. Applying the guarantee instrument under the SME Initiative meets the main challenges that the companies in Bulgaria face, i.e. impossibility to raise enough funds for their business, as well as difficulties in covering the collateral requirements and the cost of debt financing. The loans which the small and medium-sized enterprises and the start-ups are going to get from this program will be alternatives to the capital markets which not always offer economically effective solutions for small business.
Due to the additional funding (2%), provided by Horizon 2020, EIF and EIB, this instrument brings high leverage (multiplication of public funds with a private resource), together with higher credit risk hedging and regulatory capital relief for the financial intermediaries - banks.
Structured as a separate Operational Program for the 2014-2020 period, the SME Initiative aims at supporting the funding and entrepreneurship of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are drivers of growth and creators of new jobs.
To date several support schemes of varying success have been implemented for the purpose of providing help and facilitating the access to financing of SMEs. Some of these activities have been accomplished through financing from the EU Structural Funds within the Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy 2007-2013 Operational Program, one of which was the JEREMIE Initiative. After the success of that initiative, Bulgaria sees an opportunity to extend and increase its positive influence by applying in the period 2014-2020 the new guarantee instrument without a loss limit within the SME Initiative.