The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Tirana Bank have signed today a EUR 10 million loan targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and infrastructure projects promoted by local authorities in Albania. This is the first EIB loan for SMEs in Albania.

This operation will finance small and medium-scale projects located in Albania in the fields of industry, infrastructure improvements, environmental protection, health and education, energy efficiency as well as services including tourism. A minimum of 70% of the loan will be allocated to the SME sector.

The EIB funding will cover up to 100% of the investment cost of projects implemented by SMEs, in line with standard EIB criteria. The operation   will have a financial leverage effect since the EIB requires that the intermediary, Tirana Bank, grows its total SME portfolio by double the amount of the EIB loan.  Thus, some EUR 20 million should be invested in Albania to boost the economy and help the country’s progress towards economic recovery. The financial intermediary, Tirana Bank will also undertake to transfer the advantage of EIB funding to SMEs and local authority investors through lower interest rates and longer maturities.

Tirana Bank was established in September 1996 and is majority owned by Piraeus Bank.

The EIB has financed several projects in Albania in particular in the energy and transport sectors, totalling EUR 200 million over the period 2001-2009.

Notes to editors:

The EIB is the bank of the European Union. Established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome, it operates in the 27 EU Member States and is active in more than 130 other countries. Outside the EU, the Bank supports projects that contribute to economic development in countries that have signed association or cooperation agreements with the EU.

The EIB has been active in the Western Balkans since 1977 and is today the largest international financier in the region. Over the past ten years, it has financed projects totalling EUR 5.7 billion in the area. The Bank’s focus in the Western Balkans has been on the implementation of transport, energy, health and education projects, support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local authorities, industry and services, water and sanitation.