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
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.