The European Investment Fund (EIF) and EZBOB today signed a guarantee agreement aimed at supporting over 1,000 micro-enterprises in the UK. This agreement with the first internet microfinance lender under Progress Microfinance will allow EZBOB to provide enhanced access to finance to micro-entrepreneurs, in particular to young entrepreneurs in the UK, many of whom face difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banking sources.Progress Microfinance guarantees are funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund.
Commenting on the transaction, Head of the Microfinance team, Per-Erik Eriksson said: “We are pleased to be signing the first internet microfinance contract under Progress Microfinance with EZBOB in the UK. I am convinced that this innovative financing platform will help to benefit micro-enterprises and contribute to the economic growth across the country”.
The transaction will allow EZBOB, to continue further developing its current lending activity to small and micro-enterprises in the UK.
Tomer Guriel, CEO of EZBOB comments: “The partnership with the EU and additional investors means we can expect to extend between £250m-£500m in credit to UK SMEs over the next few years. The unique risk-sharing agreement will enable us to increase access to, and availability of, finance to companies normally excluded from conventional credit markets. We’re pleased to have been chosen by the European Investment Fund (EIF) as the first internet EU financial intermediary. This follows investment by the UK Government’s Angel Co-Fund in two financing rounds. “We are dedicated to helping those that are currently finding it difficult to access credit and hope that our participation will mean future customers can grow and develop their businesses and this in turn will help develop the SME market as a whole.”
Micro-enterprises in the UK wishing to apply for a micro-loan under Progress Microfinance can apply online at the following site http://www.ezbob.com
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 205 million 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 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.
EZBOB marks the 48th transaction signed under Progress Microfinance since its inception in 2010. To date, commitments of over EUR 130 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, the Netherlands and the UK.
The European Investment Fund's (EIF) 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. EIF’s total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 7.9bn at end 2013. 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. EIF’s guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 5.6bn in over 300 operations at end 2013, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.
EZBOB currently offers instant financing for E-retailers in the UK. EZBOB’s proprietary system is dedicated to financing Small Business, at the click of a button. EZBOB is leading the online financing market by introducing new financial products and offering funding based on information collected from new platforms and softwares (data connectors). The more information the system is able to gather on an applicant’s business the more credit typically extended. EZBOB’s qualifying customers make up a considerable part of the UK e-commerce market which had total sales of £78 bn in 2011. If qualified, funds are automatically transferred to the client’s account in thirty minutes or less.
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