One hundred and twelve (112) entrepreneurs and micro and small enterprises from the South East and South West Serbia with the support of the European Union (EU) worth 2,5 million Euros, allocated through the EU PRO development programme for procurement of the new equipment and introduction of services with the aim to improve production and market potential and contribute to increasing of employment.
"This is concrete EU assistance that will contribute to economic development and reduce regional disparities in Serbia," said Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of European Integration when she has met a number of representatives of enterprises that have been approved for financing.
"This is also the way in which we support the balanced regional development of Serbia, and therefore I am glad that regional development agencies are involved in these projects, because that is the central part of the reform path of Serbia's through the process of European integration. There is no doubt that democracy and the rule of law are, above all, but economic growth and balanced regional development will help people stay living in their towns, "said Joksimović.
The enterprises, mainly engaged in the production of furniture, food, clothes, metal and wood processing, were selected for financial support through the Public Call EU PRO conducted late last year, which attracted 555 applications in total. With the EU support aimed at boosting local competitiveness, these 112 small businesses, assessed as the best ones based on the proposed business ideas, expected results and effects, sustainability, and social impact, will improve productivity as well as product quality and range, but also contribute to the value chain of local suppliers and job creation.
Michela Telatin, Head of the United Nations Office for Project Services - UNOPS in Serbia, which implements the EU PRO programme, said that grants the EU provides to the enterprise should improve their competitiveness, sustainability and lead to job creation.
“The great interest in this call shows the readiness of the business community in Serbia is to grow, innovate and support its community," said Telatin, emphasising the role of social responsibility in business sectors in crisis situations such as the current one caused by the Covid-19 virus.
It is expected that with the new equipment, these awarded enterprises will create about 230 new jobs during the first year, which is an increase of 40 percent in comparison to the current number of employees. Most of the supported enterprises operate in less developed municipalities and almost half have production capacities in rural areas, which makes their impact on local level even more significant. In addition, within individual projects, entrepreneurs and enterprises will implement socially responsible activities and thus provide support to their fellow citizens, vulnerable groups, children, but also support local events and sports clubs and implement environmental protection actions.
The owner of the family enterprise for the production of food products, "Domaćica 014" from Valjevo, Ivana Maksimović, pointed out that the public call was published at the right time for her business, since they had a business plan developed, and knew which machines they needed. The enterprise co-financed the project with 20 percent of the value, as it was one of the conditions of the Call.
The Ivanjica enterprise “Drvo tim 80” will renew its equipment for furniture production with the support of the EU, and create new jobs, while the owner Davor Mićić underlined that within the socially corporate responsible activities, which is an integral part of each individual project, he will donate furniture to the preschool institution "Bajka"
The results of the Second Call for Proposals for Entrepreneurs, Micro and Small Enterprises are available at the website of the EU PRO programme.