Press Releases

FC─Managed Small and Medium Enterprises group expands operations to Federal Republic of Yugoslavia I

Rob Wright

Phone:  (202) 473-7997

Fax:  (202)  522-3742

Christopher Miller


Phone:  (387) 33-217-760

Afshin Molavi


Phone:  (202) 458-5674

Fax:  (202) 974-4384

Washington, September 28, 2001─Southeast Europe Enterprise Development (SEED), a multi-donor initiative managed by the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, launched operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) this week. SEED supports SME (small and medium enterprise) development, a key source of new job creation in FRY.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector investment arm of the World Bank Group, manages SEED on behalf of its donors through the World Bank Group Small and Medium Enterprise Department.  SEED strives to improve the overall environment for SME growth and competitiveness in the region. SEED’s activities include:

 Raising investment capital for SMEs

 Building capacity of SMEs and of the local institutions and individuals that support them such as business          associations, consultants, and financial institutions

 Improving the business enabling environment.

SEED has been doing similar work in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and the province of Kosovo since its creation in September 2000.  SEED has now developed a strong package of products and services for local SMEs, many of which can quickly be rolled out to Yugoslavia as well.  SEED’s donors have strongly endorsed this initiative, which is expected to have considerable impact in strengthening FRY’s private sector.

SEED’s activities will complement the reconstruction and development activities of the World Bank Group and other multilateral and bilateral donors in FR Yugoslavia.  SEED’s expansion follows the renewed membership of FR Yugoslavia in the World Bank Group’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and IFC earlier this year.

“We are happy to see SEED launch its activities in FR Yugoslavia and are confident it can play a valuable role there,” said World Bank Group Small and Medium Enterprise Department Director Harold Rosen.  According to SEED General Manager Mariann Kurtz,  “SEED’s role is to be a catalyst in the SME sector.  We plan to work hand in hand with other donor programs and support the ambitious economic reforms led by local officials.  SME’s are historically the engine of economic growth.  SEED is designed to fuel that engine.

FRY Federal Finance Minister, Prof. Dr. Jovan Rankovic, who cut the ribbon to open SEED’s offices together with Mariann Kurtz, said that Yugoslav authorities look forward to working closely with SEED to support SME development in the country, the key to growth and prosperity.  “The opening of SEED’s offices in Belgrade represents a great step forward for Yugoslav entrepreneurs.”

SEED’s offices are now officially open in Belgrade at Kneginje Zorke 96-98 (former Ivana Milutinovica).  SEED has offices in Sarajevo (Headquarters), Banja Luka, Tirana, Skopje, and Pristina, and expects to open an office in Montenegro soon.  SEED is co-financed by Austria, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and IFC.

IFC’s mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives.  IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.  Since its founding in 1956, IFC has committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged $20 billion in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries.  IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.