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Finance for micro-enterprises in Portugal as EIF and Banco Espírito Santo sign agreement under Progress Microfinance

    Date: 17 April 2013

The European Investment Fund and Banco Espírito Santo have signed a EUR 8.75 million loan agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises and self-employed entrepreneurs in Portugal.

This transaction was signed under the European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance), funded by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank and managed by the European Investment Fund. Banco Espírito Santo is the first institution in Portugal to receive funding support under this facility.

Thanks to this agreement, Banco Espírito Santo will provide a total amount of up to EUR 8.75 million to micro-entrepreneurs across Portugal, with a particular focus on supporting self-employed entrepreneurs. This agreement will provide easier access to finance to around 600 Portuguese micro-enterprises and encourage employment.

Commenting on the agreement, Chief Executive of the European Investment Fund Richard Pelly said: “I am delighted to sign this microfinance agreement with Banco Espírito Santo.

At a time of tightening credit conditions and given the need for improving access to finance for businesses, this agreement will bring valuable benefits to micro-entrepreneurs across Portugal”.

The transaction will allow Banco Espírito Santo, one of the largest banks in Portugal, to continue further develop its current lending activity to small and micro-enterprises in Portugal.

“The closing of this important agreement with the European Investment Fund allows BES to further develop a very relevant area, especially in the current social and economic context, placing the Bank in the leadership of the support to micro-entrepreneurs in Portugal”, said António Souto, Executive Member of the Board of Directors of Banco Espírito Santo.

Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a micro-loan under Progress Microfinance can directly contact Banco Espírito Santo‘s branches in Portugal.                             

About the European Progress Microfinance Facility

The European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance) provides guarantees and funded instruments to microfinance intermediaries. The initiative is established with EUR 203 million of funding from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. The European Investment Fund (EIF) acts as Management Company on behalf of the EU Microfinance Platform FCP-FIS - European Progress Microfinance Fund, the main vehicle through which Progress Microfinance is implemented. Progress Microfinance aims to increase access to finance for micro-entrepreneurs, including the self-employed. It has a particular focus on, but is not restricted to, groups with limited access to the conventional credit market. Examples include female entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs belonging to a minority group, entrepreneurs with a disability, sole traders etc. Loans less than EUR 25,000 are made available through selected intermediaries participating in the facility. Progress Microfinance does not provide direct financing to micro-entrepreneurs or individuals.

Banco Espírito Santo marks the 32nd transaction signed under Progress Microfinance since its inception in 2010. To date, commitments of EUR 109.8 million under Progress Microfinance have been signed to benefit EU micro-borrowers. Countries where agreements have been signed to date include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and The Netherlands.

For further information about this initiative please visit: www.ec.europa.eu/epmf

 About EIF

EIF's central mission is to support Europe's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance.  EIF designs and develops venture capital and guarantees 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. The EIF total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 6.9bn at end 2012. With investments in over 435 funds, EIF is a leading player in European venture due to the scale and the scope of its investments, especially in high-tech and early-stage segments. The EIF guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 4.7bn in close to 255 operations at end 2012, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.


About Banco Espírito Santo  

With more than 140 years, Banco Espírito Santo, S.A. is the largest listed domestic bank by market cap and the 2nd largest private financial institution in Portugal by net assets, with average market share of 19.6% in the domestic market and 2.2 mn Clients. As at 31 December 2012, BES Group operated 775 retail branches, and employed 9,944 people worldwide.

With a dedicated network of managers with full nationwide coverage, BES has been systematically reinforcing its backing for Microfinance, the main objective being to boost the economy and promote employment by leveraging social inclusion by way of addressing the current socio-economic context.

Up to the end of March 2013 this commitment to national entrepreneurship has supported 668 projects amounting to a total of 11,7 million Euros, which has helped to create 1.159 jobs.

BES Group’s focus on sustainability is reflected in the measures implemented in main business areas and innovative products to make a positive contribution towards the development of communities in which it operates and where it exercises influence. BES Group developed a six-tier strategy: Governance and Ethics; Corporate Identity; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Financial Inclusion; Biodiversity and Climate Change and Responsible Citizenship. After having been the first Portuguese bank to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes and in the FTSE4Good Index (two of the most respected sustainability indices in the world), BES is now among the 100 most sustainable companies in the world – the Global 100.

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