Strengthening flood resilience of small and medium sized companies requires a systematic and strategic approach to the implementation of prevention measures. To that end, further cooperation and support of local authorities is important together with trainings on adequate prevention measures. It is also important that SMEs become a part of the early public warning system.
These are the conclusions of roundtable “Are companies in BiH flood resilient?” held today in Zenica as a part of the 13-million EUR worth EU ProLocal programme, financed by the European Union in the amount of EUR 9 million and German Government in the amount of EUR 4 million, and implemented by GIZ.
The roundtable was the opportunity for companies to analyse progress made in the flood prevention as well as future challenges together with GIZ Country Director, Brigitte Heuel-Rolf and Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to BiH, Melvin Asin.
“The EU ProLocal provides support to positive trends in the economic recovery of the flood-affected companies. The Programme was launched at the moment when companies were already exhausted from the recovery efforts. The Programme’s advisory and financial support has enabled those companies to strengthen their competitiveness. To make the achieved progress sustainable, undertaking of adequate flood-prevention measures is of the key importance”, noted Director of GIZ in BiH, Heuel-Rolf.
One of the activities to that end is the preparation of the Flood Prevention and Response Guidance for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in BiH, which was presented at the roundtable today. The Guidance can be regarded as a useful resource for practical measures which can be implemented to prevent or mitigate damages caused by floods. It also provides a set of stickers with instructions on the key actions to be undertaken in the event of floods.
Based on it, EU PRoLocal will start the process of consultation on the flood prevention measures of other Programme beneficiary companies.
Within the Programme, nearly EUR 1 million has been allocated to the companies affected by the floods in 2014. “These SMEs have exceeded the level of business they have had before the floods, because they have introduced business innovations. As a result, around 90 jobs were created, and they recorded 20% increase in sales and 14% increase in export“, noted Asin, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to BIH.
To sustain and enhance the progress, the EU continues to support both the floods protection and strengthening of competitiveness of SMEs. “The EU support to the SMEs in BiH has reached EUR 70 million with the recently started ‘Local Development Strategies Programme’ which will support export oriented sectors, tourism and agro-rural development in the next 4 years“, Asin concluded.
A positive example of the prevention measures undertaken after the 2014 floods comes from the company for processing laminated material Pero d.o.o. in Zenica. The company has overcome internally identified weaknesses raising the floor of their storage and investing in transport vehicles that allow faster relocation of products.
As part of today’s programme, representatives of the EU Delegation to BIH and GIZ visited the company, which was modernised and now employs 4 additional workers through EU ProLocal. This is one of 93 companies that now expands its product assortment, conquers new markets and opens new jobs thanks to the support of the Programme.