USAID CATALYZE Engines of Growth Activity

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Increasing small and medium-sized enterprises’ access to and use of finance to drive enterprise growth in the Western Balkans

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The Engines of Growth Activity in the Western Balkans covers six countries – Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

About Us

The CATALYZE Engines of Growth (EoG) Activity (2020-2024) facilitates small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) resiliency, growth, and job creation in the Western Balkans by improving their access to and utilization of appropriate finance. EoG helps mobilize capital to sustain viable SMEs and jobs in the wake of COVID-19 in the near term and promotes improved SME growth financing in the long term with a focus on women-owned and women-led SMEs. 

The EoG Activity engages market actors and other stakeholders to co-design and identify key opportunities to improve SMEs’ access and utilization of appropriate financial products and services.

The goals of the CATALYZE Engines of Growth Activity are to:

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Mobilize private sources of capital to SMEs
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Improve growth financing for SMEs
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Facilitate access to finance and enterprise growth for women-owned, led, and focused SMEs (W-SMEs)
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Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on enterprises and promote resilience
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Examine key barriers and enablers of how blended finance approaches can mobilize financing for SMEs.

What We Do

Mobilizing capital to SMEs. EoG mobilizes capital to SMEs, including those adversely impacted by COVID-19, to sustain their growth and facilitate alternative financing to high-potential businesses.

Promoting women’s economic empowerment. Activities focus on promoting women’s economic empowerment (WEE) across EoG and facilitating W-SMEs’ access to finance. This component leverages EoG’s existing infrastructure and provides a complementary program of technical assistance to ensure W-SMEs’ competitiveness.

Leveraging EoG for bilateral activities. USAID Western Balkan Missions can buy into CATALYZE to implement bilateral activities that leverage the EoG infrastructure. Missions utilizing this buy-in function can customize their approach – they can pursue a co-creation path, a more traditional approach, or anything in between.

Our Objectives  

Support SMEs by mobilizing capital to sustain them, retain or rehire workers, and preserve capacity for future growth, particularly those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. EoG implements a Pay for Results (P4R) incentive program whereby Business Advisory Service Providers (BASPs) work with SMEs and W-SMEs that qualify for financial support. Potential services for clients include debt restructuring, new loan servicing terms, and facilitating access to other financial products such as inventory credit, factoring, crowdsource financing, and COVID-19 relief measures. This activity was first introduced in North Macedonia and Serbia and was expanded to the four other countries (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Montenegro) with a specific focus on facilitating finance for W-SMEs.

Facilitate alternative financing to high-potential SMEs and W-SMEs in the Western Balkans to enhance their growth, productivity, and job creation. EoG collaborates with selected partners to develop financial products and services to facilitate scalable and sustainable long-term growth. EoG engages with partners that develop innovative diversified financial products and services for high-growth SMEs and W-SMEs. The activity is collaborating with partners to introduce new financing in the following categories, such as:

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Private Equity – Regional investment funds focused on the information technology, agribusiness, and manufacturing sectors, and development of a viable pipeline of investment-ready SMEs through technical assistance, training, and administrative support.
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Alternative Financing – Leasing, supply chain financing, mezzanine financing, and loan products with commercial banks tailored for W-SMEs.
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Venture Capital – Funds specialized in early-stage investments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and biotech solutions developed by Western Balkan SMEs.
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Fintech Platforms – Digital platforms that will facilitate supply chain financing and allow SMEs to easily access information and apply for different types of loans that fit their specific business requirements.

Track the ongoing and anticipated impact of COVID-19 on the health, real economy, financial markets, and government policy in the Western Balkans. EoG developed a data dashboard to centralize information from these areas, allowing USAID and regional stakeholders to use the dashboard to design programs and policies to support these economies and their recovery.

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Expected Results (2020 – 2024) 

The following targets are expected to be achieved:  

  • Over $100 million in financing mobilized for enterprises as a result of USG assistance, including $45 million for W-SMEs. 
  • Over 2,000 enterprises benefitting from financial services provided through USG assistance.

Last updated: May 11, 2022

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