EUROPE – Viva Fresh, Kosovo’s largest retailer has secured €10 million (US$10.86m) in financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to support its expansion within and beyond the country.

Viva Fresh intends to use the funds in financing the roll-out of new stores domestically and in neighbouring North Macedonia, supporting the growth and development of a modern retail market in Kosovo and elsewhere in the Western Balkans region.

As part of the transaction, Viva Fresh and EBRD agreed on a comprehensive value-creation plan, supported by the Enterprise Expansion Fund (ENEF).

The plan will focus on the implementation of operational and governance improvements, with assistance from industry consultants.

The agreement between the EBRD and Viva Fresh was signed today in London during the EBRD’s Western Balkans Investment Summit 2020.

ENEF supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with high-growth potential in the Western Balkans.

The Fund is part of a larger platform for SMEs, the Western Balkans Enterpise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF), which was established jointly by the EBRD, the EU and the European Investment Fund among other partners.

The financier is also investing up to US$40 million to acquires a minority stake in the Singapore-incorporated company Anglesey Investments, which operates the Korzinka food retail outlets in Uzbekistan.

The investment in Korzinka, which is the Bank’s first equity investment in Uzbekistan for a decade, will allow the food chain to almost triple its food stores and double its staff from the current 5,000 employees to around 10,000 employees by 2023.

EBRD will also support the development of corporate governance, environmental and social standards, as well as health and safety procedures and practices at the company.

It will also support a range of operational efficiency measures, including the installation of heat recovery systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning units as well as improved wall and roof insulation.