ArmInfo. The start of the activity of the first unit investment fund (UIF) Amber Capital <EU-Armenia-SME>, which was created on the initiative of the EU, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and investment company AmberCapital, was launched in Armenia.
The corresponding memorandum was signed on September 20 by the Deputy Directorate General for Neighborhood, Enlargement and Negotiations of the European Commission Katarina Maternova, EBRD Coordinating Director for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus Matteo Patrone and the head of Amber Capital Camilio Azzouz.
The EU, together with the EBRD, will contribute ? 16 million to the fund. In total, the Fund intends to attract 70 million euros, which will be invested in the SME sector of Armenia. The fund will be managed by the international investment company AmberCapital, which has an office and a team of specialists in Armenia.
The activities of the fund will contribute to increasing the competitiveness of SMEs, improving corporate governance, increasing transparency and recognition of Armenian enterprises in the international arena. At the same time, within the framework of the EBRD <Small Business Consulting> program, SMEs will receive the necessary advice.
During a short briefing, Katarina Maternova noted that the mutual fund format was chosen taking into account the potential of the powerful Armenian diaspora. <This is an unprecedented case when the EU, together with its partner in this region, managed to launch such a mutual fund. I hope the fund will be successful and will serve as an example for the implementation of such initiatives in the future>, she said. In turn, Matteo Patrone noted that the mutual fund provides not only a financial component, but also an advisory one aimed at improving the business skills of SMEs. <The main goal of the EU and the EBRD is to create for investors in Armenia a sufficiently strong and stable platform for investment, to improve corporate governance, in particular in terms of fiscal processes. And in total, we want to create leaders in this field, who will demonstrate by their example how to improve the business and investment environment in Armenia>, he noted. Coming to what was said, Patrone emphasized that such a format corresponds to the EBRD working style, in particular in Armenia. According to him, 85% of the EBRD's program portfolio in Armenia is represented by the private sector, of which the lion's share falls on SMEs.
Answering a question from ArmInfo correspondent, he noted that the main emphasis will be placed on the development of the SME sector, which operates in the field of renewable energy, agriculture, manufacturing, IT, tourism, and logistics. "I would like to see institutional investors as partners of the Fund, in particular in the person of diaspora organizations," he added.
The signing ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, newly appointed EU Ambassador to Armenia Andrea Victorin and other officials. It should be noted that since 2014, the EU has provided Armenia with loans and grants in total amounting to more than 1 billion euros in the field of energy, agriculture, and transport infrastructures.
Since the beginning of its activity in Armenia, the EBRD has allocated ? 1.36 billion to Armenia to implement 178 programs in the energy, infrastructure, financial and corporate sectors. 90% of the Bank's investments are in the private sector.
Recall that the volume of total foreign investments in the real sector of the Armenian economy grew by 7.9% in 2018, amounting to $ 2.5 billion, while a year earlier the growth was higher - 14.8%. In their structure, the volume of FDI declined in 2018. by 11.2%, amounting to $ 607.7 million, against a more modest decline of 4.7% in 2017.