Packaging material producer TechnoPack is the winner of the second annual Business Project Competition organised by the National Bank of Ukraine and the EBRD and sponsored by British Airways. Noreen Doyle, First Vice President of the EBRD, presented the award at a ceremony in Kiev. The competition seeks to recognise excellence among Ukrainian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The business plan of TechnoPack, based in the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy, beat out those of 14 other finalists in the view of a seven-person international jury. TechnoPack will receive an interest rate reduced by 2.5 percentage points – worth tens of thousands of dollars – on a an interest rate for forthcoming loan from its local bank.

The runner-up was telecom company Romsat from Kharkov, which will also receive a discounted loan, while the third-place winner was wood-processing company Evgeniy from Vinnitsa. The winners will travel to London to meet similar British small businesses courtesy of British Airways, which operates five weekly flights between Kiev and London Heathrow.

Natalia Martynenko, Country Commercial Manager for British Airways, said: “We consider mutual cooperation between Ukrainian and British entrepreneurs to be important for both nations. British Airways is confident that the competition will assist Ukrainian businesses in being dynamic and prosperous and contribute to Ukraine’s economic stability and future growth.”

The second SME Business Project Competition was launched last autumn. It is supported by five commercial banks – Aval, Aggio, Forum, Nadra and VaBank. Based on the success of the first two competitions, the EBRD has agreed to conduct a and to sponsor third competition in Ukraine in 2004. This will be another chance for the Ukrainian entrepreneurs to receive long-term financing from participating banks and to demonstrate their management and strategic planning skills.

The EBRD programme for financing SMEs in Ukraine via local banks started in 1994. Since then, 188 SMEs have received loans worth $157 million within the frameworks of the SME I and SME II lines of credit.

The value of promoting SMEs through such a contest has now been exported: the winner of the first Uzbek SME Competition, based on the Ukrainian model, will be announced next week in Tashkent at the Bank’s Annual Meeting.