DEVELOPING A MORE COMPETITIVE MARKET ECONOMY
Serbia’s economy is constrained both by the economic crisis in the EU and by critical barriers to growth. Improvements to the business enabling environment are needed to stimulate growth. The private sector needs to improve its ability to compete in international markets, and an increased number of jobs are needed to combat high unemployment, especially in vulnerable communities. USAID works with selected government counterparts, non-governmental organizations, international donors, and other U.S. agencies to advance economic reforms that will contribute to business growth, to strengthen the capacity of municipalities to stimulate local economic development by better meeting the needs of businesses and the market, and to improve the competitiveness of the private sector, especially in economically disadvantaged regions.
Current programs that contribute to Serbia’s overall economic development include:
Business Enabling Project
The USAID Business Enabling Project is a five-year initiative launched in January 2011. The project helps the Government of Serbia (GoS) increase the competitiveness of the Serbian economy and its private sector by streamlining the business enabling environment, improving public financial management, and strengthening financial markets. Project activities are based on priorities identified by the private sector and the GoS.
For more information please visit: http://www.bep.rs/
Sustainable Local Economic Development Project
USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project is a five-year plan to work with municipalities, businesses and civil society organizations (CSOs) to improve public services and stimulate local economies. The USAID model focuses on cooperative regional solutions rather than a municipality-by-municipality approach to solving problems. USAID is establishing and strengthening Inter-Municipal Cooperation (IMC) partnerships that will raise public, private and donor funding for inter-municipal projects selected by local communities, businesses and CSOs.
For more information please visit: http://www.lokalnirazvoj.rs/index.html
Private Sector Development Project
USAID’s Private Sector Development Project (PSDP) is a four-year, $7-million activity to strengthen private sector firms in 12 municipalities in the economically devastated regions of south and southwest Serbia. The project was launched in July 2013. The 12 municipalities are Vranje, Leskovac, Presevo, Bujanovac, Medvedja, Raska, Novi Pazar, Sjenica, Tutin, Priboj, Prijepolje and Nova Varos.
The project is being implemented by the National Agency for Regional Development (NARD) through its network of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). The RDAs in Novi Pazar, Uzice, Kraljevo and Leskovac, in cooperation with the Vranje Small Business Agency, will help growth-oriented companies and business clusters increase sales and exports and create jobs.
This is the first time that USAID Serbia is directly partnering with a Government of Serbia entity for the implementation of a USAID program. This USAID Government-to-Government program is one of the first and most complex in all of southeast Europe.
USAID will build the capacity of NARD and the RDAs to run the program by providing support in areas such as program management, monitoring and evaluation, providing export market assessment tools, etc.
Opportunity Bank Serbia
Opportunity Bank Serbia (OBS) is a community bank that provides micro, rural, agro and small and medium-enterprise (SME) lending to clients that cannot ordinarily access financial services from traditional banks. Clients are typically from semi-urban and rural areas of Serbia. The bank specializes in loans to dual-income cottage industries and the agricultural sector.
OBS’s mission is to help create jobs, stimulate small businesses and enable the economic transformation of its clients. With a strategically developed branch network, OBS utilizes field-based client advisors (loan officers) to reach clients in remote areas.
USAID has provided financial support totaling $11.96-million to Opportunity International to create a sustainable financial institution in Serbia.
For more information please visit: http://www.obs.rs/en/
Small Enterprise Assistance Fund (SEAF)
The Small Enterprise Assistance Fund is a global investment firm focused on providing growth capital and operational support to businesses in emerging markets that are underserved by traditional sources of capital. SEAF selectively makes structured debt and equity investments in locally owned enterprises with high growth potential. Based in Washington D.C., SEAF invests in more than 18 countries around the world through an international network of 24 active private equity funds in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
For more information please visit: http://seaf.com/
Competitivness Support Project
The National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) will work over a 2-year period to improve the business enabling environment by combatting the shadow economy and by utilizing brownfield sites to create inspiring spaces in which businesses can operate.
Workforce Development project/ ICT HUB
USAID has partnered with two successful Serbian companies, Orion Telekom and DNA Advertising, on a 20-month program to generate new jobs and promote entrepreneurship by establishing an information and communication technologies hub for software developers. Other project partners include the Serbian Association of Managers and the Serbian Private Equity Association.
For more information please visit: http://icthub.rs/
Last updated: September 12, 2014