Kiev photo studio wins 3rd business project competition.

Exar, one of Kiev’s best and longest-standing photo labs, beat 13 other finalists to win the third SME Business Project Competition, EBRD Business Group Director Kurt Geiger announced at ceremony in the Ukrainian capital. The winner is planning to install state-of-the-art photo-processing equipment, which will help cater to the growing advertising needs of many domestic companies.

The runners-up were food spices and additives producer BMB Blend and the café chain BTX Centaur, best known for its brand Reprise. The first and the second place winners are going to enjoy discounted loans from their banks and all three winners will travel to London to meet similar British small businesses courtesy of British Airways, which operates flights between Kiev and London Heathrow.

A five-person international jury had its work cut out judging this year’s competition. Business planning and presentation skills of the finalists were so high that only fractions of a point separated the winners. As noted by the jury members, many Ukrainian companies are showing impressive management and strategic planning skills, as well as good rates of growth.

The latest SME Business Project Competition, launched last October, was organised by the National Bank of Ukraine, the EBRD and five Ukrainian commercial banks – Aggio, Forum, Nadra, Ukrsotsbank and VaBank. Crucial financial support was provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Natalia Martynenko, Country Commercial Manager for British Airways, said: “We think that such projects are extremely important for the development of Ukrainian businesses. That’s why we are glad to sponsor this competition organised by the EBRD. As a foreign company working in Ukraine, we’d like to see this country flourishing and are pleased to contribute to the process. Besides, it’s clear that cooperation between British and Ukrainian companies will prove mutually beneficial.”

The third competition comes at a time when the EBRD’s SME lines of credit have enjoyed substantial success, having so far provided funds worth around $200 million to over 200 projects in Ukraine It also marks the beginning of a new EBRD approach to SME lending in Ukraine – extending direct credit lines to prominent domestic banks, in contrast to the existing practice of lending through the National Bank. The new approach recognises the maturity of the Ukrainian banking system and the ability of the best local banks to deal with credit risk without involving sovereign guarantees, said EBRD’s Mr. Geiger.

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The EBRD aims to foster the transition from centrally planned to market economies in central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Visit the EBRD’s website at: www.ebrd.com