50 Years Facilitating Open Account - Trade Finance

FCI joined Bank of Albania, EBRD and business community discussion on SME access to finance through factoring

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Supporting private sector competitiveness by facilitating SMEs’ access to finance and by fostering an enabling business environment, Bank of Albania and the EBRD in partnership with FCI held a factoring workshop in Tirana last week. Discussions also focused on ways to support domestic and international trade.

In their opening statements, Bank of Albania Deputy Governor, Natasha Ahmetaj, and EBRD Head of Albania, Matteo Colangeli, expressed the importance of factoring as a useful tool for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access finance that enables their growth and contributes to the development of the Albanian economy.

Representatives of banks, non-banking financial institutions, law firms, insurance companies and other stakeholders discussed the legal, regulatory and tax framework for factoring in Albania. They also looked at the main challenges that the industry faces in offering factoring services and possible solutions, as well as considering the role of the EBRD and FCI, the global representative body for factoring, in the development of this financial tool.

Deputy Governor Natasha Ahmetaj said: “Factoring can be a very important tool for the financial sector in Albania, with a high potential for development. For this reason, Bank of Albania and the relevant stakeholders will work together to identify the obstacles to further development of this financial service, having assessed that it may provide more financing than traditional lending, while reducing risks.”

For the EBRD, Matteo Colangeli added: “We would like this workshop to be the first step in our cooperation with the authorities and the business community in removing the bottlenecks that have so far prevented the development of this important financial tool in Albania. In addition to expanding SME access to finance, factoring helps to increase the competitiveness of local enterprises, which is one of EBRD’s key objectives in Albania. We have been successfully promoting factoring in other countries through the activities of our Trade Facilitation Programme and Legal Transition Programme as well as our investments in financial institutions. We intend to replicate this approach in Albania.”

FCI Deputy Secretary General Erik Timmermans and Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Albania Ardita Seknaj emphasised the importance of sharing best practices and working on further promotion of factoring by raising awareness among market participants and stakeholders such as Courts and regulators.

Erik Timmermans commented “I was surprised by the high number of participants at the workshop. Factoring in Albania is still in its infancy stadium and there is a need for creating awareness, knowledge and best practices. Also the legal and juridical environment for factoring needs to be improved (including the availability of financial data on businesses). One of the ways forward for the Albanian factoring industry will be by starting with international factoring activities over the FCI network and I hope that very soon we will see one or two players joining FCI. I was also very positively impressed by the constructive attitude of the Bank of Albania who is not only well informed about factoring but has also understood its role in supporting the economic development by providing a safe form of working capital finance to SME’s. The support of stakeholders such as the Bank of Albania, the Albanian Association of Banks, ICC, EBRD and FCI will definitely play an important role in the future development of the Factoring industry in this country.”

Launched in 1999, the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) aims to promote foreign trade to, from and among the countries in which the EBRD invests. Since 2007, when the first factoring facility was approved, the EBRD’s TFP has signed 14 factoring facilities with banks and factoring companies, with a total turnover of €670 million.

Since the start of its operations in Albania, the EBRD has invested more than €1 billion in the country through almost 80 projects. The Bank is active in all sectors of the economy, with a special emphasis on infrastructure, energy and SME development.