Enhancing MSEs Sustainable Growth And Competitiveness

The Small Project Fund EmBRACE is a pilot project that provides financial support to micro and small entrepreneurs within the Interreg VI-A Programme IPA Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro 2021-2027 and improves the competitiveness of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in the border area.

Priority Axis 1 – Smart investments in research, innovation and competitive entrepreneurship

Specific objective: RSO1.3. Enhancing sustainable growth and competitiveness of SMEs and job creation in SMEs, including by productive investments

The Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovation and Investments (HAMAG BICRO) is managing the Small Project Fund (SPF) project – EmBRACE.

The Project aims to offer support to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in the Programme area and enhance the competitiveness of MSEs in the border regions.

Support will be given to MSEs for:

    • the development and adaptation of business models, products, services and processes, fostering the development of local MSEs with a strong focus on introducing product or process innovation;
    • developing pilot actions and new business solutions;
    • enhancing MSEs cross-border business cooperation.

Co-financing rate

From the EmBRACE project, the co-financing rate per directly financed Final Recipient is up to 85% of the total eligible expenditure and can be requested as a grant. The rest shall be covered as own contribution of Final Recipients.

Each Final Recipient should provide a minimum of 15% of the total eligible expenditure as its own contribution. Own resources can be composed of any kind of financial resources (e.g. money in the bank account, a bank loan, other donors) with the exception of grants requested from the European Union or from National co-financing resources.

Small Project

Partnership requirements

The partnership must consist of at least two (2) partners from different countries included in the Programme area, out of which one must be from a Member State (Croatia). The maximum number of partners is four (4).

However, the Programme will highly encourage partnerships consisting of partners from all three (3) countries. In the assessment phase, such partnership will be awarded with additional 5 points.

The minimum form of cooperation on the Small Project is the development of common technology, services or products created by connecting Final Recipients operating on different sides of the border, for the purpose of establishing a new supply network and/or joint presence in new markets.

Eligibility of partners

The applying Final Recipients have to be registered or have to have a branch operating in the programme area of the Cooperation Programme Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro and should operate in the Programme area for at least one year prior to date of Small Project Application submission.

In the event that the registered office of the Final Recipient is not registered in the eligible program area as stated, but only a branch of the company, such branch must be established at least one year before the date of submission of the EmBRACE Small Project Application.

Final Recipents or affiliated companies cannot be approved users within the same Small Project.

Basic eligibility criteria for Final Recipients:

    • Final Recipients should fall into the category of micro and small sized enterprises (MSEs) stipulated in 651/2014/EU Regulation, Annex 1.
    • Final Recipients must have at least one closed business year for seat and/ or branch in the Programme area;
    • Final Recipients must employ at least one employee in its last closed business year in the Programme area;
    • Final Recipients equity is positive for the last closed business year for seat and/ or branch in the Programme area.

Like regular cross-border cooperation project partnerships, a partnership of each Small Project should be well balanced with a rational and efficient division of tasks and responsibilities among Final Recipients. For the sake of an operable and effective partnership, it must aggregate partners with common needs and objectives, while specific knowledge and expertise have to be ensured throughout.

1st call – OPEN

A total of EUR 3,000,000.00 from ERDF and IPA III funds of the European Union is available to micro and small entrepreneurs from the program area as part of the 1st call for submission of Small Project proposals.

The call for submission of Small Project proposals is open from 18 June 2024 until 17 September 2024.


The schedule is the following:

1Opening conference and 1st Call Workshop03. July 2024 (wednesday)SPLIT, HR – AC Hotel By Marriott, Domovinskog Rata 61a, SplitRegister HERE
21st Call Workshop04. July 2024 (thursday)MOSTAR, BiH – Hotel Mepas, Kneza Višeslava b.b. 88000 Mostar, BiHRegister HERE
31st Call Workshop10. July 2024 (wednesday)TUZLA, BiH – Kantonalna privredna komora Tuzla, 75000 Tuzla, Trg slobode b.b.Register HERE
41st Call Workshop11. July 2024 (thursday)SLAVONSKI BROD, HR – Poduzetnički inkubator INNOBROD, Ulica Bjeliš 23, 35000 Slavonski BrodRegister HERE
51st Call Workshop16. July 2024 (tuesday)PODGORICA, ME – Hotel Ramada, 74 Bulevar Save Kovačevića, Podgorica 81000Register HERE

Minimum and maximum size of Small Projects (SP) in the 1st call for Applications:

Total eligible costs (100%)EU co-financing (up to 85%)
Option 1 (SPs up to 100.000 €)Minimum per SPEUR 20.000,00EUR 17.000,00
Maximum per SPEUR 100.000,00EUR 85.000,00
Option 2 (SPs that exceed 100.000 €)Maximum per SPEUR 235.294,00EUR 200.000,00

Option 1 – Small Projects that do not exceed EUR 100.000, i.e. using Lump sum will be paid after each of the 3 milestones and proven results. Milestones for each SP will be defined during the precontracting process.

Option 2 – Small Projects that exceed EUR 100.000 will submit progress reports on a 4-month basis. SPFB (HAMAG-BICRO) will review the submitted reports about implementation progress, ask for completion if needed and accept / approve the submitted reports.

Total costs of cooperation activities of Final Recipients may exceed 235.294,00 EUR (EU 200.000,00 EUR), but in this case, all costs above this threshold are regarded as costs outside the Small Project’s eligible cost.

Value added tax (VAT) is eligible expenditure and must be planned in Small Project budget.


A Small Project Proposal is prepared jointly by the cooperating MSEs.

The required language of Small Project Proposal is English.

Submission of the Small Project Proposal should take place by any of the involved Final Recipients through this online project EmBRACE platform through the upload of:

    1. MS Word format and signed and scanned PDF version
    2. Small Project budget in MS Excel format and
    3. all the needed supplementary documents.


Project duration

Duration of a single Small Project shall be between 6 and 12 months, the period of implementation of the project may not start before the date of the receipt of the Small Project Proposal but can start after what should be indicated in the proposal together with the final date of the implementation period of the Small Project.

DETAILED INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND IN THE Guidelines for SMEs as Final Recipients (GfA)


Small Projects are selected through a one-step selection system via open call (Call for Small Project Proposals).


Detailed information on Croatian about the EmBRACE Project can be found here.


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The project is co-financed by ERDF and IPA III funds of the European Union.