From: Exit News
USAID, CBS Project Leads to $59M in Investments, 1,500 New Jobs in Agriculture

The USAID and Creative Business Solutions (CBS) marked the conclusion of their 5-year SmartCapital partnership project in an online event on Wednesday. Results presented by the implementing partners showed the project assisted 1,000 agribusinesses to secure $59 million for new investments and led to the opening of 1,500 new jobs.  

SmartCapital aimed at enabling access to financing for farmers and agribusinesses, support for obtaining modern technologies, assistance in the use of related digital platforms and the certification of Albanian products in line with international standards.

USAID representative in Albania, Mikaela Meredith noted that the project experience legacy will continue to help farmers grow their businesses.

She commended Creative Business Solutions, the project implementing partner whose activity focuses on consulting, for their work and plans to establish a private equity fund in the region.

CBS Executive Director and President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Albania, Enio Jaco said that the project’s major priorities were to bring the agriculture sector business community closer to European standards and to strengthen trade relations between the U.S. and Albania.

He laid out to participants  the three key pillars on which support for the business community will continue: Consultancy Services on technical assistance for businesses, Digital Platforms to facilitate the connection among financial institutions and agribusiness community, as well as the sale of agricultural produce in international markets through e-commerce, the first Private Equity Fund in Albania will offer entrepreneurs financing opportunities outside the banking sector.    

Over the project implementation period, CBS, USAID’s partner, developed two digital platforms to facilitate crediting for farmers. LORES connects farmers to banks and facilitates the crediting of the agriculture sector, while Agro Trade is the first e-commerce platform in Albania enabling the export of Albanian products to international markets.

CBS will continue to offer technical assistance to farmers through its three branches in Tirana, Korce and Lushnje.

Serge Guay, an international banking expert stressed the importance of employing financial technology products for SME development in the country, as a necessity driven even more by the situation created by the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Speaking of the Albanian equity market initiative by CBC, Gavin Ryan, World Bank expert on private equity funds and SmartCapital consultant, underlined the potential for development of the Albanian SME sector and opportunities such alternative financing would create.