The European Investment Bank (EIB) said on Wednesday it will lend EUR 100 million to Croatia's Zagrebacka Banka d.d. to finance small and medium-sized projects from SMEs and public sector authorities in the areas of industry, upgrading of infrastructure, environmental protection, energy efficiency and services including tourism in Croatia.
The EIB funds will help small and medium-sized enterprises and municipalities to mitigate the effects of the current credit crisis and improve their access to medium and long term finance. For this purpose the EIB cooperates with well established financing institutions in Croatia, such as Zagrebacka Banka, that know the local market, have SMEs and municipalities as their customers and have available a well developed network.
This type of EIB lending helps to increase the productivity and competitive capacity of SMEs, which collectively make an important contribution to economic growth, modernisation and employment throughout Croatia.
The current loan represents the first EIB loan granted to Zagrebacka Banka and will increase the number of EIB partner financial institutions in Croatia having positive implications for the SME sector and public authorities.
The mission of the EIB, the bank of the European Union promoting European objectives, is to contribute to the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the Member States by financing sound investment. In Croatia, being an EU Candidate Country, the EIB supports investment projects that prepare for EU membership in terms of development of transport, energy and communication infrastructure, implementation of EU environmental standards, support to SME and municipality investments.
Since 2001 the EIB has provided in loans in Croatia some EUR 1.9 billion, including the current loan. Out of this amount, the sum of EUR 736 million represents loans supporting the development of entrepreneurial activities of SMEs and municipalities.