In May 2017, a three-year cooperation agreement was signed between the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MECIT) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) registered and operating in the Republic of Cyprus. A year and a half later, the programme “Advice for Small Businesses” provides us with an overview of the achieved results.
Throughout the period he EBRD co-funded 56 business advisory projects with local consultants out of which, 19 of them have already been completed. The total net cost of these projects amounts to €610,000 while the amount of grants provided totals to €390,000.
It is worth noting that beneficiary SMEs operate in more than 10 different industries, including wholesale & retail trade (23%) and food & beverages production (16%). Business advisory services purchased by the beneficiary SMEs related to quality management (34%), marketing (18%), strategy (18%) and organizational design (16%).
In addition, the co-funding of three business advisory projects with international industry advisors is under way with a total net cost of €170,000, while the total of grants provided amounting to €150,000. Beneficiary SMEs operate in creative industries, the automotive and the bakery & confectionaries sectors.
In 2018 the EBRD also organised a conference entitled “Reshaping the hospitality industry – Challenges and opportunities for Cypriot SMEs”. The conference was addressed to Cyprus-based, hospitality-oriented SMEs and was attended by more than 70 participants. The objective of the conference was to provide SMEs in the hospitality sector with an insight into worldwide trends and parameters affecting their companies. They were also informed about business advisory options and funding opportunities offered by the EBRD.
Three specialised trainings were organised both in Nicosia and in Limassol where 30 local consultants were given the opportunity to enhance their capabilities and increase capacity to deliver business advisory services to the Cypriot SMEs. The launch of “Women in Business Programme” also took place in February 2018, in the framework of which a one-year mentoring scheme for 20 women entrepreneurs was introduced, as well as specialised training addressed to women entrepreneurs.
In view of 2019, both the EBRD and the MECIT remain committed to support SMEs. The objective is to co-fund 48 more projects with local consultants, as well as 4 with international industry experts; the EBRD will place extra focus on strengthening the exporting capacity of SMEs by organising an ‘export readiness’ training and co-financing export promotion projects targeted at helping local producers expand the business abroad. New businesses will be supported with several specialised coaching schemes, which will combine: training, individual coaching and workshops. Several sector-specific events and training for both SMEs and consultants will also be organised.
In sum, the “Advice for Small Businesses” programme foresees to assist over 120 SMEs (over the course of three years) to improve their competitiveness and strengthen their performance by providing financial support in the form of grants for the engagement of local consultants or international industry advisers. All different types of business advisory services are supported, such as strategy, marketing, organisation, operations, ICT, quality management, energy efficiency etc. The programme is implemented by the EBRD, in collaboration with MECIT, and is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
For more information about the “Advice for Small Businesses” programme contact EBRD at: +357 22 395 508 or [email protected]