The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has provided UniCredit Leasing Croatia with a €20m (£17m) loan.

The loan will be used to strengthen leasing for micro, small and medium enterprises in Croatia, where bank loans are still the dominant source of funding. The funding will focus on rural areas.

Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, EBRD director with responsibility for Croatia among other countries, said: “Under conditions where many small and medium-sized enterprises only have limited access to traditional finance, leasing represents an attractive and valuable alternative.

“We are pleased to cooperate with UniCredit Leasing Croatia to strengthen the role of leasing in the private sector. Better access to funds will encourage entrepreneurial activity which in turn will support the country’s continuing growth.”

Eugen Paić-Karega, chief executive officer of UniCredit Leasing Croatia, said: “An important part of UniCredit Leasing’s financing strategy was always to support entrepreneurs in their endeavour to expand their business in a sustainable way.

“UniCredit Leasing, in cooperation with the EBRD, offers special funding opportunities for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises when they are financing new equipment, machinery, production lines or vehicles. During the last few years, hundreds of SMEs expanded or renewed their production capacity and enlarged their business in all regions of Croatia by using funds from our cooperation.”

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UniCredit Leasing is a fully-owned subsidiary of Zagrebačka banka, part of the UniCredit group.