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An EU-backed programme enabling the European Investment Bank to further enhance its support to SMEs in Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries was launched at a conference in Kiev on 10 February.

The goal of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) Initiative East programme is to strengthen economic development in the target countries by providing financial and technical support to SMEs.

EIB has joined forces with the EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) to provide a comprehensive package of instruments designed to help companies in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia make the most of the opportunities arising from the implementation of their free trade agreements with the EU.

It forms part of the wider EU4Business initiative, run by the European Commission, which brings together EU-funded programmes supporting SME development and improving the business environment in the EaP region.

During the Kiev conference a €40m loan guarantee facility was launched for banks lending to SMEs in Ukraine. The guarantee facility will provide local commercial banks with an effective risk management tool to increase their capacity to absorb increased funding demand from SMEs.

A stabilised and growing, stronger economy with strong and healthy SMEs is the cornerstone of a prosperous Ukraine and the new EU4Business DCFTA Initiative East will have a significant role in making this dream come true in the coming years,” said Berend de Groot, head of cooperation for the EU Delegation to Ukraine, speaking to the conference.

The event was attended by CEOs, CFOs and top management of SMEs and mid-sized companies, as well as financial intermediaries, financial advisors and industry associations.

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