INITIATIVES IN SERBIA
Where is Serbia regarding microfinance and in relation to EU countries and our own region? Serbia lags behind, primarily because of the restrictive legislation, defined by the Law on Banks – which determine that only banks can approve loans. Besides, a special law permits lending only to the State Development Fund, which in practice does not cover vulnerable categories of citizens and does not work according to the principle of personal relationship with clients. Parallel, we need to mention that Serbian Government has launched specific programs for the purpose of funding businesses and promoted them as the 2016-Year of Entrepreneurship, which has continued in the Decade of Entrepreneurship. About it at https://goo.gl/2HwVZk However, programs are mainly intended for larger and existing businesses, while beginners can compete for a grant in combination with training and mentoring. Self-employment is financed only through small grants from the National Employment Service and all these forms of support have quite demanding criteria.
We may say that the citizens of Serbia wanting to start or develop their entrepreneurial initiative or micro business are in a much worse position than the citizens of most European countries when we talk about access to funding. According to the USAID Program – Business Enabling Project -BEP, which supported our Government in order to create better business conditions and access to financial resources: In case of adoption of legal regulations that approve direct microfinance operations by non-banking institutions, Serbian economy would attract additional € 870 million for microlending in the next 4 years, which would contribute to the creation of more than 100,000 jobs. About this at https://goo.gl/tw51SD. We may add, that our institutions would have access to certain EU funds and instruments, be able to strengthen their capacities and thus become more attractive for social and other investors. They could also, on an equal base, realize partnerships with banks strived to social impact. By applying the EU Code of Conduct and other best practices, such as the Smart Campaign principles, our clients would have complete protection from over-indebtedness and transparent insight into the entire process. Benefits are economic, but also those that point to more developed human rights and democratization of society, which is also influenced by the access and diversification of sources of funding.