The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Advice for Small Businesses (ASB) program – funded by the European Union, facilitates knowhow and support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in over 30 countries.
The program aims to connect SMEs with local consultants and international advisers on a cost-share basis to help those companies become genuine catalysts for growth in their local economies and, subsequently, their regions.
This advice covers specialised areas of expertise including strategy, marketing, organisation, operations, technology, engineering solutions, quality management, financial management, energy efficiency and environment.
To qualify, an enterprise must meet the following criteria:
- operate for a minimum of 2 years;
- have less than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than €50 million;
- be majority privately-owned and majority owned by local nationals;
- operate in any of the sectors where the EBRD operates except banking, financial services, financing of military activities or production of tobacco, gambling facilities and insurance;
- Enterprise and management should be credible and respectable;
- no previous or ongoing legal proceedings which may affect the implementation of the project.
SMEs can benefit from the ASB team’s expertise to discuss their company’s situation and explore the technical assistance needed for them to grow and prosper. The ASB team has long experience in supporting companies and can share their knowledge. During the first discussion, the team will go over the company’s strength and weakness to brainstorm what is the most strategic intervention to support the company.
- Although entrepreneurs may have great ideas and expertise in their field, they still need external support when it comes to some areas of the business (HR, Business development, financial management, resource efficiency, etc.). The trick is to find the right consultant, which the ASB team can help with. ASB suggests several consultants (consultancy companies and/or individual consultants) that have the relevant expertise. The company should meet with a number of them, compare their experience, their pricing and what they are offering. This is the best way to get the optimal deal and the ideal pricing.
- SMEs should always ask for detailed proposals and negotiate them. It is important to agree on the scope of work, deliverables, timeline and budget early on, to avoid any misunderstandings along the way.
- It is advised that the SME assigns one person to follow-up closely on the project with the consultant, in order to deliver timely information as needed, to make sure the project is on track and to solve any hurdles that may arise.
- Organizing brainstorming sessions with the consultant and giving him/her relevant input is a necessity in order to have optimal outcomes from the project.
Read more about the program here.