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Canada Supports IFC’s Business Mediation Project in Southeast Europe


In Washington:
Georg Schmidt

Phone: +1 (202) 458-2934

Email:
Gschmidt@ifc.org

In Sarajevo:

Sanjin Arifagic

Phone: +(387)-33 251 555

Email:  
Sarifagic@ifc.org


March 30, 2005, Washington D.C. — Southeast Europe Enterprise Development (SEED), a multidonor initiative managed by the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, will receive a $600,000 grant for its alternative dispute resolution program in Southeast Europe from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The grant represents initial funding for program implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in Serbia and Montenegro within 12 months. SEED intends to roll out the program over the next four years and set up 10 mediation centers in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro, with a possible extension to other countries in the region.

Shelley Whiting, Canada’s ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina noted, “We are very proud of the alternative dispute resolution project. SEED has been an extraordinary partner to Canada in its efforts to introduce mediation, and this funding is a direct result of SEED’s successful work.”


Alexander Paine, SEED’s general manager added, “Our mediation program has introduced a new concept of dispute settlement to the region. The new funding from our Canadian partners will enable SEED to expand mediation, providing small and medium enterprises with a cheaper and faster alternative to courts.”


Since late 2003 when the program was introduced, SEED has helped establish laws on mediation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Serbia and Montenegro. Over 130 mediators have been trained, and a comprehensive awareness campaign has been conducted in all four countries. Pilot mediation centers set up in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, have become very successful in a short time.


In just over six months the Banja Luka pilot successfully mediated 130 cases with a 65 percent success rate, releasing close to $2 million in frozen commercial funds. In Belgrade, 293 disputes have been resolved through mediation since October 2004, helping unblock approximately $1.6 million of SME assets. The speed of the process continues to be one of the primary attractions of mediation. Courts in Bosnia need an average of 600 days to resolve a commercial dispute, while the average time to settle a case through mediation is 2.4 hours.


Southeast Europe Enterprise Development (SEED) (
www.ifc.org/seed) is a five-year, multidonor initiative managed by IFC to strengthen small and medium enterprises in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro. Since its inception in 2000, SEED has focused on increasing the competitiveness of SMEs in the region, improving their business environment, and strengthening markets for business services.

The mission of IFC (www.ifc.org) 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, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.