Minsk Furniture Forum hears EBRD plans to step up support

Minsk furniture forum

More than 80 participants gathered at the Furniture Forum in Minsk on 20 June - a sectoral event within the framework of the EBRD's Advice for Small Businesses Programme andthe EU4Business initiative in Belarus, where they were able to hear the best international practices, meet market leaders and exchange views.

The EBRD’s Yuriy Serikov told the conference that the EBRD was counting on the growth of its investments in the Belarusian economy in the coming years. 

"90% of our work in Belarus is connected with the support of the private sector. Over the years of work in the country (since 1992), we have already invested about 2 billion euros and expect that 1 billion more will be made available much faster than in previous years,"said Serikov.

Yuriy Serikov said the EBRD had implemented 14 projects in the country for €163 million in 2017. The peak of the bank's investments came in 2011-2014, due to investments in the modernisation of the wood processing industry, followed by a fall-back in investment. However, since 2016, investments have been rising again.

"Our main goal in Belarus is to support a market economy. However, we are in favour of a general improvement in the quality of life of the population, therefore we actively support municipal projects. In particular, in Belarus, we support the water sector, help build roads and conduct sewerage,"said Serikov.

Many of the bank's projects are related to resource and energy conservation. "In all our projects there must be a ‘green’ component. And our goal is that by 2020 about 40% of the projects where we will invest should be linked to the green economy," he added.

The EBRD country strategy until 2020 identifies support for the private sector and infrastructure projects as a target. "Over the years of work in Belarus, we have formed one more goal, which we have not described. We provide consulting services and organise projects with partner banks, since our mandate presupposes both support of the economy directly and through the banking sector,"Serikov said.

According to him, the EBRD is ready to enter the capital of Belarusian companies with an annual turnover of at least $10 million for a specified period. Lending is also offered for investment projects from scratch and for active businesses. In 2018, for the first time, the EBRD was able to provide loans in Belarusian rubles, Serikov added.