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22/9/2017  
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ECONOMICS
European Commission

EUR 1 billion mark reached as the EU steps up support for micro-entrepreneurs


Since the EU started its microfinance initiatives, more than 100 agreements have been signed with microfinance providers, to support over 100,000 micro-entrepreneurs in 23 EU member states.
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This cooperation between the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Commission, and microfinance providers aims to mobilise over EUR 1 billion of microfinance loans for micro-borrowers across the EU under Progress Microfinance and the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). Target borrowers include unemployed micro-entrepreneurs, young self-employed, minority groups, women and rural communities where microfinance can help with work-integration, health care, social housing and education. 

Marianne Thyssen,Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: ”We believe that, by improving access to finance and empowering people to use their skills and talents, microfinance opens up opportunities that have huge potential in terms of job creation, as it gives entrepreneurs the springboard they need to start and develop a business. Thanks to our EU funding, the availability of microcredit on the market has been increased and is expected to generate over EUR 1 billion of microloans across Europe."

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “The role of Microfinance as a tool for job creation and economic growth is becoming more apparent in the European economy.  Smart, sustainable growth can only be achieved if the financing tools we use help to combat financial exclusion. EUR 1 billion of microfinance can go a long way in helping people to start and grow their own small businesses and EIF is proud to be part of this success story.”

The European Microfinance Network is holding the second EU Microfinance Day event in Brussels today.
Since the launch of EaSI, EIF has already signed 33 transactions in 18 countries, generating EUR 660 million of financing to over 50,000 micro-enterprises and social enterprises.Micro-enterprises or social enterprises wishing to apply for a (micro-)loan under EaSI can do so directly by contacting one of EIF's microfinance institutions.

EIF will not provide direct financial support to enterprises and micro-borrowers but will implement the facility through local financial intermediaries, such as microfinance, social finance and guarantee institutions, as well as banks active across the EU-28 and additional countries that are participating in the EaSI programme. These intermediaries will deal with interested parties directly to provide support under the EaSI Guarantee.     

The European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance) was launched in 2010 to increase the availability of microcredit – loans below EUR 25 000 – for setting up or developing a small business. The EU's support to microfinance is now being implemented through the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

The Investment Plan for Europe also supports micro-enterprises via the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). To date, the European Investment Fund has approved more than 220 financing agreements with EFSI support, with total financing under the EFSI of €7.5 billion. Nearly 290,000 start-ups, SMEs and mid-caps are expected to benefit from this new source of finance. 

The European Commission's Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI") aims at supporting the EU's objective of high level employment, adequate social protection, fighting against social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund.

It provides support to financial intermediaries that offer microloans to entrepreneurs or finance to social enterprises. The objective is to increase access to microfinance for vulnerable groups who want to set up or develop their business and micro-enterprises, through notably loans of up to EUR 25 000. In addition, for the first time, the European Commission is helping social enterprises through investments of up to EUR 500 000. The microfinance and social entrepreneurship support is currently being implemented through the EaSI Guarantee, which enables financial intermediaries to reach out to micro-entrepreneurs and social enterprises that would not have been able to gain finance otherwise due to risk considerations.

Furthermore, the Commission is reinforcing the social dimension of the EFSI for both microfinance and social entrepreneurship. Overall, the total amount of support to these areas is expected to increase (from EUR 193 million under the EaSI programme) to about EUR 1 billion, mobilising some EUR 3 billion in additional investment.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

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