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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 seven-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 see: http://www.bep.rs/

Sustainable Local Economic Development Project

USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project (SLDP) is a six-year initiative supporting local governments, businesses and civil society to increase economic growth through Inter-Municipal Cooperation (IMC).  The project’s core activities are focused on supporting inter-municipal partners to add jobs and reduce unemployment in 32 municipalities clustered in eight regions.

For more information, please see: http://www.lokalnirazvoj.rs/index.html

Private Sector Development Project

USAID’s Private Sector Development Project (PSDP) is a four-year, $6-million activity to strengthen private sector firms in 12 municipalities in the economically disadvantaged regions of south and southwest Serbia.  The project is a is direct partnering with the Government of Serbia and is implemented through the GOS’s National Agency for Regional Development (NARD) through its network of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).  The RDAs will help growth-oriented companies and business clusters increase sales and exports and create jobs. 

USAID is assisting 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.  

For more information please see: www.narr.gov.rs

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 see: http://www.obs.rs/en/



Competitivness Support Project

USAID’s Competitiveness Support Project is a two-year direct grant to the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED).  The overall objective of the project is to improve the business enabling environment through increased fairness and improved competitiveness and to create inspiring surroundings for business operations. 

For more information, please see: www.naled-serbia.org


The ICT Hub is a two-year USAID Global Development Alliance between two successful Serbian companies and USAID. The Hub’s objective is to identify and advance innovative IT concepts by providing technical support to budding entrepreneurs and companies to develop their ideas into feasible projects. 

This project is a response to the large potential identified in young, highly skilled individuals and talented software developers who need technical support and knowledge to complete their projects and grow as entrepreneurs.  

For more information, please see: http://icthub.rs/

Women Education Center 

USAID’s Women Education Center (WEC) is a two-year workforce development public-private partnership with Insert, Ltd., Everest, Ltd., and the Municipality of Ruma. The center provides vocational training to women to improve the quality of their skills to reflect the needs of industries in the Srem district.  By doing so, the center provides industries with a labor force that is able to meet market demands, providing for growth in export-oriented industries such a shoes, leather, and furniture. 

For more information, please see: http://shop.shoestar.rs/

The New Beginning project

To bolster its economy and meet EU accession requirements, Serbia must restructure and privatize many of its state-owned enterprises. The Serbian Government’s program for companies in the restructuring process encompasses more than 500 companies in different phases of privatization. It is expected that approximately 30,000 workers will accept the program and take the severance pay (maximum amount 8,000 EUR). 

“The New Beginning” is an 18-month project implemented by Serbian Association of Managers (SAM) and DNA Communications. The activity will focus on regions with the largest numbers of laid-off workers and will motivate them to use their knowledge and resources to start their own business.  The experiences of the previous severance programs clearly show that redundant workers have a lack of knowledge about how to start their own businesses and about entrepreneurship. This project will give them an opportunity for a “new beginning” by starting their own business.

For more information, please see: www.sam.org.rs

Last updated: September 24, 2015

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