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SMEs as Engines of Growth

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are an essential part of any economy. In most countries, they employ the largest share of the workforce and contribute significantly to GDP. Usually, SMEs are financially sound and have a successful history as long-standing microenterprises.

Nevertheless, in many countries such companies have only limited access to financial services and products. They are considered risky, unprofitable customers, and are not served by many commercial banks. Success stories worldwide, however, illustrate that SME finance can be a profitable business, the risk of which can be managed. Banks can profit by engaging with SMEs, diversifying their risks and customer structure, thus expanding their business.

Our specialized SME Competence Centre assists financial institutions in establishing or improving SME finance as a business segment.

All of our services are based on international best practices. They are customized to meet the specific conditions of our clients and their markets.

Strategic Planning and Policy

Successful business development requires the establishment of adequate organizational structures guided by strategic planning and policy, which enable organizations to enter the SME market. This encompasses all policies, process descriptions, and work flows, as well as the development of business plans for the SME market. Time plans, as well as key performance indicators, define the path toward the growth of SMEs in our partner financial institutions (FIs).

Product Development

A successful SME is driven by suitable SME financial and non-financial products, which reflect local market conditions and customer expectations. We support market research and the design of marketing initiatives, provide customized product descriptions, and coach the staff in introducing SME services and products. Financial products range from working capital and investment loans, to deposit related products, guarantees and trade facilities. Non-financial products focus on business opportunities, value chain optimization and leadership.

HR Management

IAS aims to ensure the stable growth of the SME business sector in our partner financial institutions. We start with support in recruitment and the development of relevant functions in the organization, through detailed training and capacity-building plans, incentive schemes, and training impact analysis.

Tools, Instruments and Operations

IAS can offer credit risk assessment, loan portfolio management, and reporting tools, which are integrated within the existing structures of our partner FIs. These tools facilitate daily lending operations and assist the management in performance evaluation and results monitoring.

Flagship Projects


Small Lending Programme – Bank of Qinghai

The objective is to support Bank of Qinghai to build SME lending capabilities and to develop MSE lending skills, with the long-term goal of improving the credit business within the bank. The bank has established a micro-lending unit as a part of its specialized MSME Financial Service Center, and wants to tap into the small-lending segment to set up the complete capacities for both small- and micro-lending functions.

The Project at a Glance
Duration 2014 - 2015
Client Bank of Qinghai
Country China
Main Objectives
  • Customized trainings for the management
  • Development of lending process and products based on market study results
  • Support the recruitment of the first batch of small-lending LOs
  • Enhance the bank’s existing micro-lending capacities
  • Conducts a feasibility study of the ago-lending business

Our Services
  • Design and execute a market study with the bank staff
  • Develop and roll out small-lending strategy & products
  • Create and update a business plan
  • Review and set up incentive system for SME staff
  • Design the whole lending proces cycle and draft relevant lending documents as well as policies and procedures
  • Recruit four Management Trainees for HQ and MSMEFSC of the bank
  • Design and execute an agri-lending feasibility study


Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Lending – Capacity  Building for Partner Banks

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has approved the Jordan MSME Framework available to eligible banks in Jordan.The Framework aims to address difficulties of accessing finance for micro, small and medium enterprises. In addition it aims to create a sustainable environment fostering the growth of MSME lending in the country through three components:

a) long term cash financing to local banks

b) tailor made Technical Cooperation to Partner Banks for capacity building

c) loan guarantees.

The Project at a Glance
Duration 2015 - 2018
Client European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Country Jordan
Main objectives

Help participating banks to establish/improve:

  • dedicated MSME lending departments
  • adequate risk management procedures
  • product development for (new) targeted segments or industries
  • MSME lending techniques

Our Services
  • Scoping of the MSME market through a full fledged market study to assess supply and demand of MSME financing in Jordan
  • Review of existing MSME lending model and organisational structure of the Partner Banks (PBs)
  • Design and set-up or improve of existing dedicated MSME lending departments of PBs
  • Design and implement a tailored MSME lending strategy for each PB
  • Provide advice with respect to risk management
  • Provide advice with respect to staff motivation
  • Ensure sustainability by building internal capacities of PBs in the above mentioned areas through training-of-trainers programmes
  • Provide regular and detailed reporting on the progress of the Jordan MSME Framework, including the financial health of the PBs (to the extent possible) and factors affecting the implementation of the Framework

Western Balkans

Women in Business – Technical Cooperation Programme

In order to improve the currently limited access to finance and know-how faced by women-led SMEs in the Western Balkans region, EBRD has developed the Western Balkans Women in Business Financing Programme.

The ultimate goal of the Programme is to promote women’s entrepreneurship by improving access to finance and know-how for female entrepreneurs, and promoting a strong women-led SME sector in the region. The Programme has an integrated approach focusing on women-led SMEs incorporated in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

The Project at a Glance
Duration 2014 - 2018
Client European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Region Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia
Main objective
  • Support women-led SMEs in accessing finance for their sustainable growth and job creation
  • Develop sustainable credit mechanisms targeted to women-led SMEs through technical assistance to financial intermediaries in the Western Balkans     
  • Support women-led SMEs in accessing know-how, non-financial business development services and networking opportunities
Project components
  • Women in Business Financing component
  • Technical Cooperation component
  • Small Business Support component
Our Services
  • Baseline assessment for each country to assess market gaps and to improve the understanding of women-led SME use and needs of financial services and products
  • Based on the outcomes of the baseline assessment, develop and implement tailored capacity building at each participating financial institutions
  • Support institutions in the provision of gender-responsive financial products and services to target women-led SMEs and to address their specific needs
  • Organize a series of seminars such as “smart marketing” events and diagnostic services to help identify women´s needs for finance and know-how