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IFC Supports Inclusive Growth by Boosting SME Access to Finance in Southeast and Central Europe

London, United Kingdom, April 13, 2021—Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Southeastern Europe will have improved access to finance, in the wake of an investment by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, that aims to provide strategic and operational support to SMEs in the region. 

IFC has invested €20 million in the Evolving Europe Principal Investments Fund I (Fund)—managed by Integral Venture Partners (Integral). SMEs, which drive economic development, innovation, and employment in the region, continue to face challenges in raising long-term capital through private equity. As a result, the fundraising volume and the number of funds remain low. Also, fundraising for growth strategies—the Fund's focus—remains weak in the region, with only two new country-focused funds. Codecool - Investee of Evolving Europe.jpg

"This investment from IFC marks another important milestone for Integral, allowing our initial Fund to further scale up and continue to provide capital to SMEs in our target markets, assist them in growing their businesses, and amplify their positive economic and social impact," said Stefan Tzvetkov, Founding Partner and CEO of Integral. 

The Fund is a first-time, generalist, pan-regional private equity and growth capital fund targeting €150 million. The aim is to invest in growth-oriented equity transactions in SMEs—primarily in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovak Republic. 

The Fund will target 10 to 12 companies that are active across sectors—including consumer goods and services, health care, niche industrial products, and technology and telecommunications—and help them expand both in domestic and international markets. Also, it will help the companies improve operations and profitability. In addition to providing capital, Integral will help its investees implement IFC's environmental and social standards and promote corporate governance through board seats and positions on key management committees.  

"Private equity funds bring growth capital, operational experience and industry expertise. They transform family- or entrepreneur-owned businesses into institutionally managed companies, thus increasing their competitiveness and productivity," said IFC's Wiebke Schloemer, Director for Europe and Central Asia. "This regional fund provides an opportunity to substantially deepen the private equity market in the region by attracting institutional equity. This will help fund the needs of fast-growing SMEs and improve their governance and business practices."  

IFC has supported the development of the private equity funds in its Europe and Central Asia Region for over 20 years, with commitments of over $500 million in the region as of June 2020.

About IFC

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org

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About Integral Venture Partners

The Integral Venture Partners team comprises investors who are experienced in buying, building, and creating value in companies in the region. It deploys institutional private capital in companies to enhance revenue growth, achieve operating productivity, and implement best practice in management and governance, including environmental and social standards in the region. A recent example of the type of investment by the Fund is Codecool, a leading CEE digital/IT training and re-skilling business specializing in fast-tracked, practical courses teaching students about coding and related fields, as well as placing digital talent with corporates. The Fund's investment will enable Codecool to scale up its business by accelerating its expansion into new geographic markets, broadening the product portfolio by offering corporates and governments re-skilling programs, and further developing its proprietary technology platform. For more information, visit www.integralvp.com