Over EUR 100 m have been made available to 21 different microcredit providers in 15 countries across the EU, amounting to around 50% of the funds available under the European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance).
Progress Microfinance is funded by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) and managed by the EIF. Thanks to the microfinance agreements signed over the last two years, microcredit providers can provide microloans to micro-businesses in the EU, targeting in general disadvantaged borrowers who have difficulties in accessing the traditional credit market.
László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said: "Microfinance has strong potential to help people stand on their own feet especially in times of hardship. I am glad that the Progress Microfinance Facility has now reached cruising speed with more and more people benefiting from it. I invite other countries and institutions to join in. EU support to this important tool should continue."
Commenting on the success of the initiative, EIF Chief Executive Richard Pelly said: “Over EUR 100 million in new commitments to microcredit providers in two years demonstrates the fast impact of Progress Microfinance since its launch, especially given the current demand in the market for microfinance. We are convinced that the microcredit providers we are working with will help financing the start-up and expansion of many micro-enterprises at this crucial time for the European economy.”
A number of new microfinance agreements were signed at the end of 2012 including deals with Adie in France, SocGen Expressbank in Bulgaria and the newly created Microfinance Ireland institution in Ireland. At least 10 - 12 new agreements are due to be signed in 2013. In total, EUR 500 million of microloans to 46,000 micro-borrowers are expected to be made available until the end of Progress Microfinance by 2020.
About the European Progress Microfinance Facility
The European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance) provides guarantees and funded instruments to microfinance intermediaries. The initiative has EUR 203m of funding from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. 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 of less than EUR 25,000 are made available through selected intermediaries participating in the facility. Progress Microfinance does not provide financing or guarantees to micro-entrepreneurs or individuals directly.
For more information refer to the comprehensive list of microfinance institutions under Progress Microfinance.
The European Commission aims to continue microfinance support in the next financial period under the proposed Programme for Social Change and Innovation (PSCI - see IP/11/1159 and MEMO/11/663)). The proposed instrument also covers capacity building for microfinance institutions. Like the Progress Microfinance Facility, the PSCI would be complementary to inclusive entrepreneurship policies under the European Social Fund, which can, for instance, finance business development services that help start-ups to acquire the necessary skills for running their business.
About the 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, the 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 4.8bn in close to 255 operations at end 2012, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.
David Yormesor, e-mail: email@example.com