Photo: courtesy of Mirjana Sučević

The advantages of energy-efficient, sustainable solutions in business have long been recognized, and citizens, who pay the most for the current energy crisis, are slowly realizing all the benefits of their application. Although the data show that more and more people are ready to adapt their businesses and households to the new standards, in Serbia, that percentage is still significantly lower compared to Western Europe. Initial investments are the main brake that prevents entrepreneurs and citizens in our country from turning to new, more modern and efficient technologies. To questions about how this problem can be overcome and whether banks can change citizens’ perception when investing in sustainable solutions, we sought answers from Mirjana Sučević, Head of the department for working with the population and for very small businesses from ProCredit Bank.

EP: ProCredit Bank has been introducing innovations in its operations for years, following world trends. How do you do it?

Mirjana Sučević: Even today, as twenty-two years ago, when we started doing business in the Serbian market, the goals were always clear – client satisfaction and as simple and comfortable as possible, yet completely secure banking. Thus, following the trends, especially in Germany, where our parent company is located, but also the contemporary needs of society, we decided almost a decade ago that it was time to change the way we do business, that is, to become the first 100 per cent online bank in Serbia. We live fast, time is running out, and in such a world, people appreciate when they don’t have to go to the bank. Let’s be realistic, banks are not our favorite, but we need them, so the relationship must be favorable for the client.


EP: How important is the green segment in your business, and how do you convey it to clients?

Mirjana Sučević: We are happy to point out that energy efficiency and a green approach in everything we do are an integral part of our corporate DNA. That is indeed so. We know that as an institution, we have a responsibility towards the environment in which we operate. As we have always believed that we should start from ourselves, the changes came first at the internal level, and that is how we have developed our approach to environmental protection over the years. It consists of three pillars, where the first refers to the internal environmental management system, the second refers to the management of environmental and social risks in lending, and the third deals with green financing. It is very important for us to communicate energy-efficient solutions through the products we offer, such as the GEFF loan in cooperation with the EBRD, with a return of up to 20 per cent, which can be used to finance new joinery, a heat pump, insulation, solar panels and more. Also, through educational posts on social networks, blogs and various other activities such as public appearances and participation in events, we try to raise awareness about environmental pollution and show ways to change it. The green segment is important at the level of the entire ProCredit Group, which recently became a Net Zero banking alliance member, and joined the community that acts on plastic pollution (Finance Leadership Group on Plastics UNEP FI).

EP: How do you help clients follow all procedures when using a banking service?

Foto: ProCredit banka

Mirjana Sučević: Procedures exist and are always there to protect the client himself, but also us as a bank. We have simplified the procedures as much as possible to expose clients to as little stress as possible when making important life decisions, such as taking out a home loan. We are constantly available to clients in the Online Center, there are 24/7 Infophones in all our Zones, and we are in constant contact with clients through social networks. We are not a classic bank because our business does not involve the promotion of consumer loans, but we always look at the client’s creditworthiness. The conditions are, therefore, different compared to other banks, and we must promote investments first of all because if you already have to repay the loan, then let it be for some higher goal.

EP: At a time of great energy crisis and appeals for energy saving, we are considering improving energy efficiency in our homes, which represents a serious financial challenge. How can your client overcome it?

Mirjana Sučević: The geopolitical crisis brought inflation and energy deficit, but above all, it forced us to change our perception. Electricity obtained from solar panels or heating and cooling with heat pumps are no longer unthinkable. It has been the standard in the Western European market for years. Initial investments are not small, but the savings and benefits will be noticeable very quickly. One of the ways to find the necessary funds are loans, and we offer our clients GEFF, which are realized in cooperation with the EBRD, which are loans with a return of up to 20 per cent. Clients understand the benefits of energy-efficient solutions, especially since we advise them in every step, from choosing a supplier to checking the invoice and the amount of return they can achieve. The great thing is that with this loan, you can finance everything from external and internal wall insulation to new joinery, a heat pump, and solar panels. Also, it is a relief that for amounts up to RSD 600,000, clients do not have to come to the bank but do everything completely online, and for larger amounts, it is necessary to go to the bank to sign the contract on the day of the loan disbursement.

Interviewed by: Milica Radičević

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine ENERGETIC EFFICIENCY