“Last year clearly demonstrated the importance of the guarantee and credit support that our Bank offers to small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. Despite the current market situation and related risk aversion of commercial banks, we help them to gain access to financing and to make it cheaper. “One example of the step in the right direction is our support to investments into energy saving projects through interest-free loans,” says Jiří Jirásek, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In 2022, the NRB experienced a growing demand particularly for its flagship program EXPANSION-GUARANTEES and for its twin programmes ENERGY SAVINGS / ENERG offering interest-free loans for investments into energy efficiency measures. “Last year we guaranteed loans to businesses worth CZK 13 billion (more than EUR 0.5bn) through the EXPANSION-GUARANTEES programme, which is two-thirds year-on-year increase compared to the previous year. Due to the market situation, demand for ENERGY SAVINGS programme also increased rapidly to CZK 140 million (EUR 6m), where we more than doubled the amount of resources provided for these projects in year-on-year comparison,” describes Jiří Jirásek.
Support is mainly used by small companies
Support from the NRB is most often provided to small businesses with less than 50 employees. This was the case also the last year. They were the recipients of support in 89% of cases, while in the remaining 11% the support was targeted to medium-sized companies. The funding was used mainly to stock and materials purchase, acquisition of new machinery or technologies, software, licences, modernization and the construction of new production facilities, storage halls, administrative premises, as well as the implementation of energy saving measures.
CZK 1 billion for public infrastructure development
The NRB also contributed to the development of public infrastructure in the past year. The bank financed projects of regions, municipalities and municipal companies amounting almost CZK 1 billion (EUR 42m). The support was aimed at water infrastructure development and modernization or transport infrastructure, such as the construction of local roads or the acquisition of public transport vehicles. Last but not least, the reconstruction of public buildings, such as municipal ones or police stations was also realized.
Growing interest in consultancy, especially in the energy sector
The NRB has also seen great interest in its consultancy services, particularly in the energy sector. Through the ELENA programme, it assists regions and cities with the preparation of EPC projects and covers up to 90% of the costs incurred. The resources allocated for this form of support (CZK 55 million / EUR 2.2m) have already been utilized within a few months. Besides that, the ELENA programme was also used by those entrepreneurs who took interest-free loans from the ENERGY SAVING or ENERG programmes. Such a consultancy helps them mainly to cover the cost of the energy assessment report (90%) and with the preparation of the application form.
Preparation of new programmes
The NRB is working intensively on the preparation of new programmes for the programming period 2021-2027. To support municipalities, it is preparing preferential financing schemes for affordable housing and for the repair and construction of roads. There are about 15 new products in the pipeline for businesses.