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Building the export capacity of SMEs in eastern Europe and central Asia /

Case study: Working with the European bank of reconstruction and development

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital for a country’s economic growth. They are responsible for significant contributions to export expansion, increased employment, and overall play an important role in the political economy, helping to promote and strengthen modernisation and reform. However, due to constraints in the business environment, their contribution often doesn’t reach its full potential.


Responding to this, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has created the Small Business Initiative, facilitating projects in more than 30 countries that help SMEs to access a range of consultancy services. The objective is to boost local economies by helping SMEs to grow and succeed. These projects are supported by many donors, including the European Union.

Financing alone, however, cannot meet the challenges facing SMEs. They also need access to know-how to improve their performance and grow. So, in 2017, working with EBRD, Crown Agents designed and developed a “trade in goods export capacity building” programme for the Small Business Initiative.


The cross-border environment is very different from domestic trading. New exporters need to understand the processes, protocols and procedures which will enable them to be competitive and compliant in the global marketplace, increasing their exports to both existing and new markets.

Crown Agents developed two specialised training courses to enable participants to learn about the fundamentals of international trading, from responding to enquiries, through the contracting process to international shipping and export credit control:

  • Export practice and procedures for new exporters
  • Advanced export practice and trade finance

In 2017 we delivered a number of these courses throughout Ukraine and adapted the programmes to other countries in the region.

In 2018, we delivered on behalf of the EBRD a number of the same programmes in Belarus, Moldova, Romania and the Kyrgyz Republic, and again in Ukraine, and are in discussion with EBRD to customise the programme for other countries and their local contexts.

An important element of this capacity building for SMEs was the follow-up mentoring sessions which were delivered to help business leaders implement what they had learned and grow their businesses in the months following the course.

As part of the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative, Crown Agents has so far trained more than 300 SMEs in 10 different locations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


The EBRD Small Business Initiative programme has achieved outstanding results and Crown Agents is proud to be part of such a high-impact programme.

One of the delegates attending the training commented:

“The trainer successfully combines a deep understanding of the content of questions with an inspirational presentation of material that motivates the participants of the training to master new knowledge. In addition, he constantly illustrated the material with examples from his work in companies around the world.”