SME WEEK - European Union Instruments for SME-s Financing

European Union Instruments for SME-s Financing

Within the European Week of SMEs (16-22 November), the Information Centre of the European Union in Vlora and AULEDA (Local Economic Development Agency in Vlora) organized a workshop on "Instruments of EU funding for SMEs innovating ", on 18 November 2015.

The purpose of this event was to inform the representatives interested in small and medium enterprises operating in Vlora for the opportunities they have to apply for EU projects and obtaining professional assistance from AULEDA writing projects in accordance with requirements calls. This activity was also registered on the portal of the European Union to SMEs, ranking Albania as one of the countries that support and promote small and medium enterprises.

The event began with the welcome speech of Ms. Besjana Roshi, Head of the EU Information Centre in Vlora, which presented the participants with the purpose and objectives of the activity. Mrs. Roshi explained that European Week of SMEs is a European-wide campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe. This campaign helps existing entrepreneurs find information on the support that they can receive and encourage more people to start a business. The event continued with a presentation on SMEs and what the EU does for them.

The speaker explained that the EU creates a favorable business environment, promoting entrepreneurship through the Action Plan on Entrepreneurship, supports entrepreneurship education provides supporting tools to those aspiring entrepreneurship, improve access to new markets and internationalization facilitates access to finance,It supports competitiveness and innovation of SMEs and provides key support and information networks for SMEs.

The speaker also informed the participants about the incentives and funding schemes of the EU to promote and encourage individuals to become entrepreneurs, but also to facilitate the creation of their businesses and their individual skills. In particular, she explained Instrument for SMEs, as part of the Horizon 2020. Small and medium enterprises operating in EU countries or in a country participating in Horizon 2020, as well as Albania, can receive funding from EU and support for innovative projects that will help them to enhance and expand their activities in other countries - in Europe and beyond. SME instrument, with a fund of 3 billion € over the period 2014-2020, helping SMEs with high potential to develop innovative ideas for products, services or processes ready to face the competition of the world market.

SME Instrument provides innovation grants for small and medium enterprises for the purpose of assessing the feasibility; Business innovation grants for development and demonstration purposes innovations; free business training, access to a wide range of innovation support services; facilitating the commercial exploitation of innovation. The presentation continued with an online application demonstration calling for proposals from SME instrument and COSME program.

Ms. Ariana Bubeqi, Project Coordinator of AULEDA's said that AULEDA aims to encourage individuals and entities apply to projects funded by the EU, in order to benefit from the support of the European Union and to guide interested businesses how to manage these projects. She said AULEDA represents an opportunity to support new business start-ups through the Guarantee Fund and the services provided.

Besides, she continued with an online presentation of the main financing instruments such as –Competition COSME Program of small and medium enterprises, advisory program for SMEs launched in partnership with the EBRD, EIP-Agri (program for agriculture and innovation under Horizon 2020) and Erasmus for young entrepreneurs.

The event featured great interest to representatives of SMEs which were involved in discussions on applications and eligibility criteria, evaluation criteria and procedures. The event was covered by local media.