New era of business support services for SME in BiH

The EU funded project supporting institutional capacity building for Regional and Local Economic and SME Development (EURELSMED) in cooperation with the BiH Regional Development Agencies (RDA NW, REZ, REDAH, SERDA, NERDA) and the Agency for Development of SME in RS, presented launch of the Voucher Scheme for SME Business Support Services, on 18 July 2011 at the BiH Foreign Trade Chamber in Sarajevo.

„The voucher scheme is worth 120,000 Euros and will be implemented over the course of one year. We expect approximately 200 SMEs to benefit from business advisory services in the fields of business planning, human resources, financial management and product innovation,” said Johann Hesse, Head of Operations Section for Economic Development, Natural Resources and Infrastructure at the EU Delegation to BiH. „On top of that, 200 SME managers will have access to extensive training programmes aimed at improving their management and business skills. We hope this will provide tangible and immediate effects for the businesses and that it will be a good model for replication in the future.” Hesse concluded.

EURELSMED Project Team Leader David Miller said the nationwide project is intended to subsidise the cost of business support services for small enterprises, and provide easy access to consultancy and training services to allow SMEs to increase their competiveness.
The vouchers will cover production, manufacturing, construction and service provision throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, after application through one of the six administrators has been approved.

The vouchers system covers from 50 to 70 percent of expenses of three types of programme, SME strategic diagnosis and identification of the type of consulting services needed; consultant engagement; and two-day training courses for managers.
„The success and continuation of the scheme will depend on well designed overall entrepreneurial training and responsiveness to the real needs of the business sector,” said Hesse and added that business services offered by consultants must maintain a very high standard and must be relevant to the SMEs. „I hope BiH stakeholders, including the government and other donors, will provide additional financial support for the scheme and make it sustainable. In the long run, we hope that SMEs will gladly pay for professional business support services.”

EURELSMED, EU Support for Institutional Capacity Building for Regional and Local Economic and SME Development in BiH, is a three-year project with funding of 2.4 million Euros which began in September 2009. The project provides a wide range of support, advice and training for Regional and Local Development Agencies throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. It aims to assist in the development and management of the business support infrastructure, provide consistent and coherent services for small businesses, and increase the capacities of municipalities to implement local economic development projects.