SME in Serbia are more optimistic
Belgrade, 9 December 2015 – The results of the ProOptimist Index 2016 indicate that the level of optimism found in small and medium-sized companies, both those which conduct business in Serbia and also those which do business with Germany, has increased significantly compared to the previous year. 52.7% of domestic companies expressed a positive attitude in regard to the business climate (in comparison to 46.7% in the previous year), while those companies that conduct business with Germany are even more optimistic (57.8% compared to last year’s 53.8%). This research was conducted by ProCredit Bank in collaboration with the GfK, a German market research agency.
Both small and medium-sized enterprises feel that the lending process will be more straightforward in the coming years and that interest rates will decrease. The business community continues to remain rather reserved with regard to investments, with six out of ten companies having no plans for future investment. Those that do have indicated that they plan to invest in machinery, equipment and vehicles.
The challenges faced by both small and medium-sized businesses are strikingly similar, including poor sales performance, the slow collection of receivables, fierce competition between domestic companies, taxes and state regulations.
A significant increase in awareness of the importance of EE investments in domestic companies has been noticed of late. From 33% last year to 44% this year, the level of awareness has continued to grow, especially in those companies that do business with Germany.
“Back in 2001, the shareholders and management of the ProCredit group took a decision which recognised that what Serbia needed was a bank dedicated to the development of the SME sector and one that would promote responsible banking. After being present in the Serbian market for a decade and a half, ProCredit Bank, the only German bank operating in Serbia, has invested just shy of EUR 4bn in the SME sector, with investments of EUR 248.5m this year alone. In the current structure of our loan portfolio, this sector dominates at 88%. We will continue to provide support to small and medium-sized enterprises because they are the backbone of economic development. Currently this sector generates 31% to 33% of Serbia’s entire GDP, although this percentage is higher in more economically developed countries and in Germany amounts to 47%. It is our belief that small and medium-sized enterprises should be recognised by all financial and non-financial institutions operating in the country, the goal being to provide stronger support to each of Serbia’s economic sectors,” announced Borislav Kostadinov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ProCredit Bank Serbia.
“The Development Strategy for SMEE (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Entrepreneurs) is the framework of measures to be adopted, which is of special significance to this segment of the economy, and special impetus will be given to its implementation with the announcement of 2016 as the Year of Entrepreneurship in Serbia,” stated Katarina Obradović-Jovanović, Assistant to the Minister of Economy for the SME Sector, adding, “Providing support to exporting, along with employment growth, is of paramount importance, and the newly formed Development Agency of Serbia will pay special attention to this segment in particular throughout its planned activities for 2016 in collaboration with the other Ministries, the CCIS (the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia) and the AOFI (the Serbian Export Financing and Insurance Agency).”
The conference was attended by Katarina Obradović-Jovanović, Assistant to the Minister of Economy for the SME Sector, Aleksandar Kemiveš, Adviser to the President of the CCIS, Borislav Kostadinov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ProCredit Bank Serbia and Igor Anić, a Member of the Executive Board of ProCredit Bank Serbia.