The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) recently highlighted the success and evolution of its Business Advisory Services (BAS) program, which helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) connect with consultants who can them find financing and achieve stability.
“We helped rural tourism, publishing houses, food processing companies and even customs brokers,” Roland Repsa, EBRD advice for small businesses team co-ordinator, who led BAS Latvia at the time, said in an announcement. “In fact, one of our first projects in Latvia was helping Laima, a leading chocolate producer. We put Laima in contact with a local adviser who prepared a marketing strategy. These were the first successful steps for the EBRD in providing advisory services.”
The program began as a Nordic initiative to help Baltic countries transition from centrally planned economies to market-based economies. It quickly expanded out of that region to assist businesses in Russia, Central Asia, Slovenia and Croatia and then beyond to the entire EBRD region.
“At the beginning of the program in the mid-1990s, many potential entrepreneurs came to us saying ‘I have an idea and a building, all I need is some funding,'" Michael Ayre, the founder of BAS, said in the announcement. "Our job was to show them that a sound business proposal would attract financing only if there was a credible marketing plan, an accounting system and more."
EBRD plans to continue using the BAS to help SMEs navigate changes to their economic environments.