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Center-invest Bank attracts USD35m for southern Russia’s post-crisis economy.

On 17 March, Center-invest Bank and the EBRD signed an agreement under which the EBRD will provide Center-invest with a five-year USD35m loan.

Center-invest is the first southern Russian bank this year to have obtained a loan on the international financial market for the region’s economy.

Center-invest Bank will use the funds to lend to SMEs in southern Russia, enabling them to implement projects that will help build the region’s post-crisis economy: introducing energy efficiency technologies, modernising production, developing agriculture, and trade finance.

During the agreement signing ceremony, EBRD Vice President Varel Freeman said, “Supporting small and medium-sized businesses is at the heart of the EBRD’s mandate. Thanks to Center-invest, a bank with which we have had a relationship since 2002, we can achieve this goal.”

Last year, Center-invest Bank presented its “Southern Russia Versus the Global Crisis” programme to its partners. The programme contains a set of measures for rebuilding the post-crisis economy. The signing of the loan agreement with the EBRD testifies to Center-invest Bank’s professionalism.

In 2008, Center-invest Bank was the leader in terms of the number of loans issued to SMEs, granting 7646 loans for a total of RUR17.5bn. In February 2009 the bank issued 743 loans totalling RUR2.8bn.

Center-invest Bank has run programmes to support SMEs in southern Russia for ten years now. Today, 37,000 SMEs and self-employed individuals bank with Center-invest.

With the support of Center-invest, a ‘hot line’ for SMEs has been operational for more than three years. To date, this service has provided business people in the Rostov region with more than 20,000 free consultations on legal issues. (