Serbia’s economic situation has improved, however its legal and policy structures require additional refinements to enhance growth; its regulatory capacities need strengthening to create a transparent, competitive and vibrant private sector; and its vulnerable communities need more opportunities. USAID works with selected government counterparts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international donors, and other U.S. agencies to deepen reforms, advance legislation to attract foreign investment and support business growth, and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to stimulate local economic development.
As Serbia moves closer to European Union (EU) and World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, businesses are encountering new opportunities and competitive challenges. In order to benefit from the changes that trade liberalization will bring, Serbia’s companies need to streamline and modernize.
USAID works with promising small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural, industrial, and service sectors to improve productivity, upgrade the quality of their products, and to expand into new markets. USAID’s projects introduce new technologies, improve business practices, develop the workforce, enhance marketing, and help companies meet international standards. Building a strong, competitive business environment provides opportunities for long-term economic growth and employment.
Current programs that contribute to Serbia’s overall economic development include:
Business Enabling Project
The USAID Business Enabling Project (BEP) is a five-year activity designed to help the Government of Serbia improve the competitiveness of the Serbian economy and its private-sector businesses. The activity provides technical assistance and training to targeted groups to improve the business-enabling environment, support macroeconomic stability, develop financial markets, and improve business and financial management capacities within businesses and the government.
Project components are helping Serbia achieve major reforms that will:
Sustainable Local Development Project
USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project is a five-year project that is supporting municipalities, businesses and civil society organizations move beyond municipality-by-municipality solutions in favor of cooperative, inter-municipal approaches to improving public services and invigorating their economies. The project’s activities focus on establishing and strengthening Inter-Municipal Cooperation (IMC) partnerships. The activities are owned and driven by the IMC partner cities and municipalities. The project provides technical assistance, grants, and subcontracts that enable partners to leverage available public, private, and donor resources.
The Sustainable Local Development Project:
Opportunity Bank Serbia (previously Opportunity International Savings and Loan which became a bank in May 2006) provides banking services to entrepreneurs and clients with limited access to the banking system. Opportunity Bank also works in rural areas to bring financial services to family farms and SMEs with demonstrated growth potential. Opportunity Bank has branch offices throughout Serbia, including the south, where banking services are limited.
Project components include:
SEAF is a global investment firm, based in Washington, D.C., that provides growth capital and operational support to businesses in emerging markets that are underserved by traditional sources of capital. It provides equity and quasi-equity (long-term debt) financing to SMEs in Serbia and the region in accordance with its investment policy.
Project components include: