The Country Surveys study aims to define a comprehensive framework of the main international financial instruments offered to national SMEs operating in East European transition country markets. The financial aspect assumes a specific relevance due to the particular economic conjuncture framework, whereas a global crisis hardly impacted on East European economic systems in a middle of a radical transition phases bringing them towards tough changes and gradual adaptation to fully market economy.

The document is composed in three sections; the first one briefly presents the situation of the SMEs, emphasizing their peculiarities, their role in national economic and productive systems, as the contribution resulting to the still on-going economic transformation processes in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, it is also taken into account the negative impact resulting from the current international economic situation due to the financial crisis erupted in late 2008 that has in some cases severely affected – and is still affecting - the countries’ financial-economic-dynamics.

The descriptive picture of the SME sector is integrated by a concise comparative analytic part of the enterprise possibility to profitably operate on the domestic markets; in this sense, the use of specific well acknowledged qualitative international surveys has the goal to better point out which are, at present time, the main obstacles and barriers to an expected development of the business. Within this topic, a particular attention is given to the role of access to finance and its weight on the opportunity of development and expansion in economic activities.

Subsequently, a global offer of the main current international financial organizations active in Eastern European markets (WB, EBRD, EIB – while the EU has also been considered even if not a IFI but due to its involvement in support to EE development towards future enlargement, integration or closer partnerships) is given, focusing on specific financial instruments designed to support SMEs in this region stressing on the prospective opportunity granted by such facilities that if fully exploited can contribute to the implementation of the business condition activities of Eastern European firms.

The last part of the paper presents a series of Country Surveys, one for each of the nine Project recipient countries (PRC), aiming at deepening the single-country frame-view for financial facilities already offered by the IFIs in support to national SMEs, outlined in terms of regional and national objectives, activated to the benefit of the Accession (Candidates and Potential Candidates) and Eastern Neighbourhood beneficiary Countries (ENC). We have delineated, in the occasion, as an introductory element, to characterize the role and the weight of SMEs in national economy, both in quantitative terms and in absorption of workforce, including, where possible, the contribution to the creation of wealth to highlight even more, if necessary, the real SME key-role in domestic economic development and growth.

As reference of the level of the national system development, it was chosen to relate to the formal periodical evaluations produced by the Brussels’ European Commission, whereas possible, on the status of progress done in the EU integration process specifically referring to pursued industrial and SME policies; an evaluation even more relevant for those countries belonging to South-East European region that openly aim at a medium-term future accession to EU. The recourse to the results of recent international surveys realized on an updated database set up by the World Bank Group in collaboration with the EBRD, allowed a comprehensive view of the direct reactions of the entrepreneurs of the nine Project Recipient countries arisen from the most problematic issues hindering the business activities, with a specific attention to the capacity to access to finance.

 Link to download the full text of the Country Surveys (PDF)

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