PRISTINA, KOSOVO, January 24, 2000
— Micro Enterprise Bank (MEB), the first bank to be licensed in Kosovo
since last year's conflict, today opened its doors to the public, meeting
an urgent demand for financial services. MEB will provide account management,
money transfers, loans and cashless payment transactions to micro and small
enterprises, as well as individual customers.
MEB was founded at the initiative of several international financial institutions
and investment companies, including Commerzbank AG, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Finance Corporation
(IFC), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden
(FMO) and Internationale Micro Investitionen (IMI) and Kreditanstalt für
Wiederaufbau (KfW). It will have an initial equity holding of EUR 2.3 million.
Funding is provided to a substantial degree by the Dutch and German governments.
"Kosovo's economic recovery will increasingly depend on the availability
of basic banking services," said Horst Köhler, President of the EBRD,
speaking in Pristina. "The Micro Enterprise Bank does just that, giving
ordinary people the means to provide for their own livelihoods without
resorting to handouts. It will also serve as a dependable, commercial-oriented
source of credit for small businesses, which will form the backbone of
a resurgent Kosovar economy."
IFC's Director of the Central and Southern Europe Department, Harold Rosen,
stressed that this kind of project will create jobs and improve people's
lives. "A major impediment to growth has been the lack of access to
credit which is one of the main vehicles for promoting economic
growth. By demonstrating the commercial viability of properly structured
and organized micro-lending institutions, we can catalyze considerable
private investments to build credit and other financial services for many
poor people in Kosovo."
Werner Frank, Senior Vice President at KfW said: "All the international
organizations involved have shown a great strength of purpose and flexibility
to get this institution off the ground. MEB is an excellent example of
what can be achieved with the co-operation of committed partners."
Michael Barth, Managing Director of FMO, said: "Micro and small enterprises
are looking for a single financial institution that can provide all of
the financial products they need. They not only demand credit but also
require deposit facilities and payment services. MEB's initial focus therefore
is to introduce account facilities and payment services, with lending activities
to follow in a few months' time." Mr. Barth also emphasized the importance
to private sector development of healthy financial intermediaries.
Jan Baechle, Senior Vice President at Commerzbank AG, said: "While
the international public institutions among the founders focus on the development
aid character of MEB Kosovo, Commerzbank AG – being the sole private bank
among the shareholders and profiting by its worldwide presence – concentrates
on the smooth handling of international money transfers and foreign trade
Since August 1999 a resident expatriate team, led by Internationale Projekt
Consult (IPC) GmbH, has been working to set up MEB. The team's main tasks
were to establish a working relationship with the United Nations Mission
in Kosovo (UNMIK), and to locate and renovate suitable business premises,
as well as train staff.
"At the end of the conflict in Kosovo in June 1999, the province's
financial system was in a shambles, so we really had to start from scratch,"
said Koen Wasmus, the new General Manager of MEB. "We have provided
intensive training to a number of young and highly motivated banking trainees
– most of whom had no previous banking experience. They received on-the-job
training with similar micro-credit banks in Albania and Bosnia. I expect
that the first generation of local managers will be recruited from among
MEB will be based in Pristina with a staff of 30. Branches are due to open
soon in Prizren (early February) and Peje (March or April). After three
years, the bank is expected to have seven branches.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private
sector investment in developing countries, which will 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.
Note to editors: Factsheet follows
Koen Wasmus (MEB), tel: +49 170 54 55 216
Ben Atkins (EBRD), tel: +44 171 338 7236
Claudia Loy (KFW), tel: +49 69 7431 2121
Brigid Janssen (IFC), tel: + 1 202 458 4698
Emile Groot (FMO), tel: +31 70 3149649
Dr. C.-P. Zeitinger (IPC/IMI), tel. +49 69 951 43712
Dr. Helmut Töllner (Commerzbank), tel: +385 1 4551565
Fact Sheet: Micro Enterprise Bank (MEB)
Paid-in share capital: EUR 2,300,000
Number of staff: 30 (including management)
Number of branches: 2 (by early February, including main branch in Pristina)
Number of branches after 3 years: 7
Date of application for a banking license: November 23, 1999
Date of preliminary approval: November 30, 1999
Date of approval of banking license: January 12, 2000
Official opening: January 24, 2000
The Foundation for Enterprise Finance and Development has been established
and funded by KfW under German Financial Cooperation.
MEB-Bosnia is owned by EBRD (28.57%), IFC (28.57%), IMI (19.05%), FMO (14.29%),
Composition of the Board of Directors:
Aftab Ahmed (IFC),Dr. Klaus Glaubitt (KfW; chairman of the Board), Emile
Groot (FMO), Dr. Helmut Töllner (Commerzbank), Elizabeth Wallace (EBRD),
Koen Wasmus (MEB), Dr. C.-P. Zeitinger (IMI)
Management Consulting firm:
Internationale Projekt Consult (IPC) GmbH
Composition of Management:
Koen Wasmus (IPC), General Manager; Ralf Reitemeier (IPC), Deputy General
Manager; Wolfgang Haring (Commerzbank), Deputy General Manager; David Kruijff
(IPC), Branch Manager, Prizren; Jasper Menken (IPC), Branch Manager, Peje