By R. Constantin
Once again, our congratulations to former Minister Ilan Laufer for his personal effort to promote Romanian companies on the US market.
On October 26, Laufer announced that more than 150 business plans have already been entered into the Smart Start USA platform and another 350 are about to be completed, and the first funding clearances have already been issued.
Laufer attended the conference for the presentation of the conclusions at the end of the Smart Start USA caravan tour that promoted the program in 27 cities.
'We are nearing 1,000 platform users, there are more than 150 completed plans and the first have already been approved and financed. We hope that the power of example encourages others to join, to apply too, that we are able to prove that we can change mentalities. There are over 350 business plans in the process of completion,' Laufer said.
He added that by the end of 2018, he wants at least 10,000 companies running on domestic capital to benefit from the Smart Start USA platform and the financing made available, of up to 200,000 US dollars per company.
'Romanian economy is the second most under-financed economy in the EU, when it comes to SMEs. We want to change this mentality. Access the Smart Start USA platform, enter a business plan, then we contact you, you no longer need to go to the bank yourself, to persuade the bank, and this will change a lot in the area of bank loans to SMEs. We would also want to attract a lot of young people, to improve financial education,' Laufer said. He also pointed to the spectacular growth in Romania's exports over the past 20 years, from 7 billion euro in 1998 to over 65 billion euro today.
'There is huge potential in the US for Romanian companies. I was amazed to see how much Romania has to offer to the United States,' the coordinator of the project said.
The Laufer Foundation will open next week an office in Bucharest dedicated to promoting the Smart Start USA program.
Ilan Laufer also mentioned two very important events that are on November's agenda, which are organized in New York and Miami for the business environment in Romania, with the support of the Romanian-American Chamber of Commerce and the Romanian Consulate in New York; Romanian companies participate free of charge and are only required to cover transport and accommodation costs.
The Smart Start USA program, running on a budget of 500 million dollars intended to fund Romanian companies that want to expand to the US market, was launched in early October.
The main goal of the program is to create the first ecosystem in Romania dedicated to increasing exports and taking companies with Romanian capital global, with priority access to the US market.
The program, which can finance annually 10,000 Romanian companies, is implemented with the help of three banks, Piraeus Bank, BCR and Banca Transilvania, so that the beneficiaries from all over the country have over 1,000 branches to turn to, allowing access for any company, regardless of its location.