On 25 June 2021, the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF) held its first virtual Business Forum. The event was organized by the Enterprise Europe Network and supported by the European Commission and the European Investment Fund.
More than 130 participants from the entire Western Balkans region and beyond attended the Business Forum. Most of the attendees were Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), local intermediaries and entrepreneurs. The participants wanted to learn more about the existing and future funding opportunities provided by the European Commission and international financial institutions under the WB EDIF platform. The audience also had the possibility to hear about the experience from finance and advisory providers and fellow SMEs who had benefited from the available programmes.
The event was opened by a lively panel composed of representatives of the Enterprise Innovation Fund (ENIF) under WB EDIF, EBRD, Raiffeisen Albania bank and the Serbian SME BG Reklam. The speakers shared their experience from the pandemic and how the available opportunities could be utilized. The panellists shared a common opinion that the region has a very good potential, plenty of innovative ideas and creativity that can be translated into new business opportunities and growth, if the existing hurdles and market failures are adequately addressed. The general consensus was that, like and more than in the EU, the crisis in the Western Balkans can be also an opportunity to grow stronger and more resilient if companies find market niches, show creativity and innovation.
In the second part of the event an online matchmaking took place, where companies were able to meet finance and advisory providers under the WB EDIF. The meetings were bilateral and the overall feedback provided by attendees and intermediaries has been very positive.
A special thanks goes to the Enterprise Europe Network for organizing the event and to all attendees and entrepreneurs who contributed to making it a success.
Support to the private sector has been identified in the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans as one of the Flagships. The development of a robust, innovative and competitive private sector is essential for the socio-economic development of the Western Balkans and its regional integration. This requires, in particular, increased investments in SMEs and their capacity to innovate, scale-up and grow