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Europe supports EUR 15 million of loans for Greek micro-enterprises

    Date: 24 October 2016

EIF and Pancretan Cooperative Bank have signed a microfinance guarantee agreement aimed at supporting more than 1,000 micro-enterprises in Crete, Athens and Thessaloniki, under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

The EaSI agreement allows Pancretan Cooperative Bank to provide a total of EUR 15 million to over 1,000 micro-entrepreneurs over 5 years, many of whom face difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banking sources. Pancretan Cooperative Bank will primarily target unemployed borrowers aiming to start a new business. Micro-borrowers will be able to benefit from loans at a reduced interest rate, without providing collateral under the EU-supported programme.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "With this agreement, we show our commitment to contribute to the Greek economic recovery, by giving more than 1,000 small enterprises the tools to develop their activity and create jobs."

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “Creating jobs and growth lies at the heart of EIF’s strategy and this new microfinance transaction with Pancretan Cooperative Bank, helps us to achieve this aim. Access to finance is often the missing piece of the puzzle for micro-businesses and I am confident that Pancretan Cooperative Bank will be successful in giving aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to achieve their goals.”

Vice President of Pancretan Cooperative Bank, Nikos Myrtakis, said: “With the first cooperation of a pilot character between Pancretan Bank and the European Investment Fund, through a EUR 2.5 million program for Guarantees to micro-enterprises, we succeeded to significantly contribute to the creation or continuation of almost 200 viable and competitive enterprises and simultaneously acquired valuable knowhow for their support. Through the new program of EUR 15 million we are ready to reach out to more than 1.000 small enterprises which face difficulties in accessing bank financing. Our target is to support innovative ideas and competitive business plans. We thank once again the European Commission and EIF for their trust in our Bank.”             

Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a micro-loan under EaSI microfinance programme can contact Pancretan Cooperative Bank in Greece.

EIF will not provide direct financial support to enterprises 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.  

About the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation

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.

About the European Investment Fund

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.

For further information on EU microfinance and social entrepreneurship support please refer to:

Easi Programme        

EU support to social entrepreneurship

About Pancretan Cooperative Bank

Pancretan Cooperative Bank is the largest Greek cooperative bank with more than 83.000 members, almost EUR 1 billion in deposits and EUR 1,6 billion loans (85 % of total loans addressed to SMEs). It has a total of 54 branches in Greece (47 in Crete and the rest in the areas of Attiki, Thessaloniki and the island of Milos). It has more than 13% market share in deposits in Crete, and more than 20% in Heraklion county. Pancretan Bank retains a successful cooperation with the European Investment Bank since 2007, with total funding of EUR 195 million, aiming to support investment projects of SMEs and Local Authorities of Crete, as well as with the European Investment Fund with guaranties of EUR 17.5 million for microloans to very small viable enterprises. 

 Press contact:

- EIF: David Yormesor, tel: +352 42 66 88 346, e-mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

- Pancretan Cooperative Bank: Anthi Tefou, tel: +30 2810 338803,  e-mail: atefou@pancretabank.gr

- EU Commission: Christian WIGAND, +32 2 296 2253, Sara Soumillion, +32 2 296 7094

Europe supports EUR 15 million of loans for Greek micro-enterprises


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