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JEREMIE Sicily: Call for Expression of Interest to select Financial Intermediaries

  •  
    Date: 04 October 2011 - 12 December 2011

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Call for Expressions of Interest to select Financial Intermediaries that will receive resources from the EIF acting through the JEREMIE Holding Fund for the Sicily Region to implement the Funded Risk Sharing Financial Instrument for Social Finance.

Deadline: 12.12.2011

Reference number: Call for EoI No. JER-050/1

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Introduction

The JEREMIE initiative is a framework providing a series of coherent actions to promote increased access to finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. 

The JEREMIE initiative in the Sicily Region is organised through the European Investment Fund (hereinafter, “EIF”) acting through the JEREMIE Holding Fund (hereinafter, “JHF”). Through the JHF, EIF manages funds made available from the European Social Fund (hereinafter, “ESF”) and related public expenditure awarded for utilisation under the JEREMIE initiative.

As part of the Regional Operational Programme PO FSE 2007-2013 (“Programma Operativo Regionale Sicilia FSE  2007-2013”)[1] the competent regional authorities have agreed to dedicate resources to the implementation of the JEREMIE initiative with EIF, in accordance with Article 44 of the Council Regulation (EC) No. 1083/2006[2] (hereinafter, “Reg. 1083/2006”) and in accordance with the provisions of a funding agreement (hereinafter, “Funding Agreement”) entered into on 14 December 2010 between the Sicily Region (hereinafter, “Sicily Region”) and EIF. Relevant rules for implementing Reg. 1083/2006 are set out in the Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1828/2006[3] (hereinafter, “Reg. 1828/2006”).

The cooperation between the Sicily Region and EIF acting through the JHF is governed by the Funding Agreement, which defines the type of cooperation and the operational modalities of the JHF financing expenditure in respect of an operation, as this term is defined in Reg. 1083/2006 (hereinafter, “Operation”) comprising contributions to support financial engineering instruments. EIF acting through the JHF is advised by an investment board, members of which are nominated by the authorities of the Sicily Region (hereinafter “Investment Board”). EIF, acting in its own name through the JHF, for the ultimate benefit of the Sicily Region, operates on the basis of its usual business principles and an investment strategy and planning for the implementation of the JEREMIE initiative.

The JEREMIE initiative is funded by the following Operational Programme for the period 2007-2013, as described in particular in the table below:

Operational programme name

Priority axis name

Operational Programme for the period 2007–2013

Objective: Priority Axis III – Social Inclusion, Operative Objective G.

This Call for Expression of Interest targets financial engineering instruments referred to in Article 44 of Reg. 1083/2006 and is addressed to bodies or firms, whether public or private, which are interested in receiving resources out of the JHF for the activities in respect of Operations (hereinafter “Financial Intermediaries”). Such activities shall be carried out in accordance with the contractual agreements to be entered into by the JHF and the selected Financial Intermediaries (hereinafter, “Operational Agreement(s)”).

The Financial Intermediaries should express their interest by completing and submitting an Expression of Interest, a template of which is attached hereto as Annex 1.

1.     Definitions and Interpretation[4]

In this Call for Expression of Interest, capitalised terms and expressions shall have the meaning attributed to them below, unless otherwise defined above or the context requires otherwise:

Applicant

means a Financial Intermediary applying to this Call for Expression of Interest which may, for the avoidance of doubt, also be a consortium or joint venture between a bank and a governmental or non-governmental organisation active in social finance; the Financial Intermediary has to be a credit institution authorised to carry out business in the Sicily Region under the applicable regulatory framework;

Deadline

means 12 December 2011;

Financial Instrument

Funded Risk Sharing;

Eligibility Criteria

means the criteria with which the Expressions of Interest and the Applicants must comply with and which are listed in Annex 2 – Part II hereof;

Expression of Interest

means a proposal sent by an Applicant in response to this Call for Expression of Interest, within the Deadline, to be drafted in accordance with the template attached hereto as Annex 1;

EIB Group

the EIB Group consists of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and EIF;

JEREMIE

means the initiative “Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises” launched by the Commission and  EIF, as member of the European Investment Bank Group, in order to promote increased access to finance for the development of SMEs (as defined below) in the European Union;

JHF

means EIF acting in its own name, through the JEREMIE Holding Fund for the ultimate benefit of Sicily Region, appointed under the Funding Agreement;

Operational Agreement

means an agreement entered into between a Financial Intermediary and EIF on behalf of the JHF regarding a Financial Instrument on the basis of this Call for Expression of Interest and the selection process;

Quality Assessment Criteria

means the quality assessment criteria applied by EIF, in its  sole discretion to the suitability of the Applicant and/or the proposed Financial Instrument according to the business standards of EIF and which are listed in Annex 2 hereof;

Selection Criteria

means the Eligibility Criteria and the Quality Assessment Criteria;

Social Cooperative

for the purpose of this Call, Social Cooperative has the meaning set out in Italian Law n. 381/1991;[5]

Social Enterprise

for the purpose of this Call, Social Enterprise has the meaning set out in article 1 of Legislative Decree 155/2006 (being ”a company aimed at the production or trade of goods or services which have a social usefulness which are intended to pursue purposes of general interest)”;[6]

Social Finance

For the purpose of this call, Social Finance, is regarded as lending to SMEs, start-ups and existing, with the objective to provide loans for social improvement and social inclusion[7] and aims at:

  • increasing adaptability of workers, enterprises and entrepreneurs with a view to improving entrepreneurship, innovation and creation of new companies;
  • enhancing access to employment and the sustainable inclusion in the labour market of job seekers and inactive people, preventing unemployment, in particular long-term and youth unemployment, encouraging active ageing and longer working lives, and increasing participation in the labour market;
  • promoting self-employed and independent work, creation of new enterprises (including cooperatives), incentives to job market participation, flexible measures to extend elder workers' careers, measures to support better work-life balance (for instance by improving assistance services for infants and no-self sufficient individuals) as well as strengthening enterprises, including Social Cooperatives, acting in the social sector or carrying out activities aimed at social improvements;
  • reinforcing the social inclusion of disadvantaged people, through the promotion and support of entrepreneurial initiatives, with a view to their sustainable integration in employment and combating all forms of discrimination in the labour market by promoting job market integration and reintegration for disadvantaged people through measures to further employment in the social economic sector, as well as any related support measures, collective and assistance services aimed at improving occupational opportunities;
  • facilitating access to social credit and micro-credit for the strengthening of start-ups and the consolidation and development of micro-enterprises, with a priority to individuals;
  • putting emphasis on certain specific disadvantaged groups of entrepreneurs (e.g. immigrants, young individuals, females, unemployed, disable, etc.). In general, given the mission of the ESF the preferred target will be entrepreneurs having difficulty in accessing the credit system therefore considered non bankable;
  • strengthening lending operation with social enterprises with a particular attention to Social Cooperatives.

Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises or SMEs

means micro, small and medium-sized enterprises as defined in the Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC; for the avoidance of doubt SMEs shall also include Social Enterprises, self entrepreneurs and Social Cooperatives;

Loans or lending

means loans with maximum amounts not exceeding EUR 100,000 to SMEs.

 2.     Holding Fund manager

European Investment Fund, 96 Boulevard Konrad Adenauer L-2968 Luxembourg.

General internet address of the JEREMIE Holding Fund manager (URL): www.eif.org

Under the Funding Agreement, EIF may be substituted in its role as JHF. In the event of such substitution, the Sicily Region, or the entity appointed by the Sicily Region as new JHF, will assume the full discretion and responsibility to perform the tasks of the JHF and to implement the Operations in the Sicily Region, and may take over the Financial Instruments. The Operational Agreements will provide for the possible substitution of EIF, in order to allow the transfer of the Operational Agreements to the successor entity.

3.     Description of the activities expected from the selected Financial Intermediaries

The selected Financial Intermediaries will have to implement a financial engineering instrument briefly described in the table below (hereinafter, “Financial Instrument”). A Financial Instrument shall either be set up as an independent legal entity governed by agreements between the co-financing partners or shareholders or as a separate block of finance within a Financial Intermediary. As provided by Reg. 1828/2006, a separate block of finance shall be subject to specific implementation rules within the Financial Intermediary, stipulating, in particular, that separate accounts are kept which distinguish the JHF resources invested in the Financial Instrument, including those contributed by the Operational Programme, from those initially available in the Financial Intermediary.

It is planned to allocate out of the JHF an amount up to EUR 13.5 million to the Financial Instrument.

See below list of indicative allocation and the relevant Annex setting out the Selection Criteria and the description of the Financial Instrument.

Financial Instrument

Indicative capital allocation (millions EUR)

Applicable Annexes

Funded Risk Sharing Financial Instrument for  Social Finance

Up to 13.5

Annex 2 (Financial Instrument: Description and Selection Criteria)

The Financial Intermediaries shall clearly express their interest for a contribution (in terms of amount requested) of minimum EUR 1 million and may express their interest for a contribution up to the total amount allocated by the JHF to the Financial Instrument.

The indicative capital allocated to the Financial Instrument, as well as the amounts available for contribution by the JHF to the selected Financial Intermediary, may be changed as necessary, at EIF’s sole discretion, particularly if the funding available changes during the JHF implementation process or the demand for the Financial Instrument so requires.

To be noted that joint ventures and/or consortia (e.g. consorzi o Associazioni Temporanee di Imprese (ATI)) can express their interest as long as (i) at least one member of the joint venture or consortia is a credit institution authorised to carry out business in Sicily under the applicable regulatory framework, (ii) at least one member is an organisation such as business support providers, Non-Profit Organisations, local association supporting social sector; and (ii) they indicate/nominate one coordinating entity as a contractual counterpart for EIF for the entire term of the Operational Agreement (in case of selection), and  (iv) all members of the joint venture or consortia assume joint and several liability for all applicable obligations. Such Applicants are required to submit one, joint Expression of Interest.

Financial Intermediaries are encouraged to provide mentoring services to the relevant SMEs in line with their proposal submitted under the Expression of Interest.

Such services may be provided by the Financial Intermediaries either directly or via cooperation agreements with appropriate entities (e.g. Non-Profit Organisations).

Should the Applicant provide coaching, mentoring or guidance to SMEs activities, this will constitute an added value to be taken into account in the Quality Assessment Criteria.

4.     Expression of Interest

A template for the Expression of Interest is attached hereto as Annex 1, and can also be found at the following addresses:[ www.eif.org or www.eif.org/calls_for_expression_of_interest/index.htm  or: www.regione.sicilia.it. ]

The Expression of Interest includes the Applicant’s identification, the project description, the supporting documents, the declaration of absence of conflict of interest and the statement regarding situations of exclusion.

Until no later than 21 October 2011, the Applicants may request clarifications regarding the Call for Expression of Interest or the nature of the Financial Instrument. Such requests must indicate the Call for Expression of Interest reference number and the name of the Applicant and shall be submitted in English via email (no more than 10 MB per each email) to:

Regional Business Development Unit, European Investment Fund, info.rbd@eif.org

Requests for clarifications from Applicants shall not receive individual replies. Instead, answers to all requests for clarifications received within the relevant deadline will be published together in a clarification document to be posted on the website: www.eif.org.

EIF will, in principle, not contact any Applicant prior to the Deadline, unless it considers it necessary to clarify issues of a mere technical nature. However, should EIF discover any errors, inaccuracies, omissions or any other type of clerical defect in the text of the Call for Expression of Interest before the Deadline, EIF will correct the text and inform accordingly.

5.     Language

The Expressions of Interest, including the submitted documents, shall be in English.

6.     Submission of Expression of Interest

The Expressions of Interest shall be submitted on or before the Deadline both by (i) e-mail (no more than 10 MB per each email) and (ii) registered mail or professional courier service. The Expressions of Interest sent by registered mail or professional courier service shall consist of a closed single package, and shall contain the Expression of Interest, together with its attachments, in paper form and in removable electronic storage medium (e.g. CD-ROM).

The Deadline for the submission of Expressions of Interest is 12 December 2011.

The Deadline applies (i) in case of e-mails to the reception by EIF and (ii) in case of registered mail or professional courier service to the date of dispatch proven by the post office stamp or a dispatch receipt.

The Expressions of Interest shall indicate the reference number of the Call (No. JER-050/1) and the name of the Applicant and shall be sent to the following address:

Postal Address:

European Investment Fund
Attention: Regional Business Development Unit
96 Boulevard Konrad Adenauer
L-2968 Luxembourg
LUXEMBOURG

The outer envelope (package) shall indicate the following:
“Expression of Interest - Reference number of the Call (No. JER-050/1) - Not to be opened by the reception – To be passed without opening to Regional Business Development Unit”).

E-mail Address:

Attention: Regional Business Development Unit
info.rbd@eif.org

Prior to the Deadline and in the same manner as specified above, the Applicants may change or amend their Expressions of Interest by clearly indicating the parts to be changed or amended.

Prior or after the Deadline and in the same manner as specified above, the Applicants may withdraw their Expressions of Interest.

After the Deadline, an acknowledgement of receipt will be sent to the relevant Applicants by EIF via e-mail, which shall state the following:

  • Unique proposal identifier (Expression of Interest number);
  • Reference number of the Call for Expression of Interest;
  • Confirmation that the Expression of Interest was received before the Deadline.

The acknowledgement of receipt shall not be construed as a declaration of completeness of the Expression of Interest and the documents submitted therewith, nor any kind of assessment of the same.

7.     Selection process

When selecting Financial Intermediaries, EIF is committed to respect fundamental principles, such as:

i)                 equal treatment,

ii)                 non-discrimination,

iii)                confidentiality and

iv)                transparency.

The Expressions of Interest will be examined by EIF, on a comparative basis, using professional analysis and judgment, according to the Selection Criteria.

EIF will reject those Expressions of Interest which do not comply with the Eligibility Criteria. Financial Intermediaries, whose application is rejected because of non-compliance with any of the elements reflected in the statements regarding situations of exclusion (Appendices 4 and 5 to Annex 1 hereto), may not present themselves for consideration in subsequent Calls for the Expression of Interest unless it is specifically evidenced that the reason for the exclusion no longer exists.

The expiration of the Deadline shall not prevent EIF, in limited cases if deemed necessary, from requesting and receiving from Applicants clarifications on issues of a mere technical or formal nature, provided that such clarifications shall neither provide an opportunity to the respective Applicants to unduly improve their applications nor otherwise distort the competition between the Applicants.

Applicants who are not excluded according to the Eligibility Criteria will go through EIF’s selection process based on the Quality Assessment Criteria. The further selection based on the Quality Assessment Criteria, and the due diligence process, follows the standard procedures and guidelines applied by EIF to its business. The evaluation of proposals at this phase will be conducted under competitive terms.

In any phase of the selection process, EIF reserves itself full discretion to consider Financial Intermediaries and no Applicant has any claim or other right or may expect to be ultimately selected for financial support by the JHF.  

Any negotiation of terms and conditions of Operational Agreements by no means entails any obligation for EIF and/or the JHF to enter into such Operational Agreement with the relevant Financial Intermediaries.

Financial Intermediaries which do not receive contributions from the JHF are informed accordingly; the reasons for their Expression of Interest being rejected may be clearly communicated to them upon request.

Those Applicants, whose Expression of Interest is rejected, shall have the right to submit a written complaint by e-mail and registered mail or professional courier service, to the same address used for the submission of the Expressions of Interest above, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the letter of rejection. Any complaints will be dealt within the framework and in accordance with the EIB Group complaints policy (further information can be found on www.eib.org).

8.     Operational Provisions

The Financial Intermediaries, with which Operational Agreements will be eventually signed, shall be required to comply with the EIF’s anti-fraud policy, available on the website of EIF (www.eif.org), and with the relevant monitoring, reporting, publicity and auditing obligations required by the EU regulations, applicable to ESF, and by the Funding Agreement. Such obligations are briefly described in the relevant Financial Instrument description documents, and will be defined in the relevant Operational Agreement.

 

ANNEXES

Annex 1.     Expression of Interest

Annex 2.     Funded Risk Sharing Financial Instrument for Social Finance: Description andSelection Criteria

[1] Such Operational Programme approved by Decision of the European Commission C(2007) 6722 of 18.12.2007.

[2] Council Regulation (EC) No. 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No. 1260/1999 (Official Journal of the European Union L210 of 31.07.2006), as amended from time to time.

[3] Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 of 8 December 2006 setting out rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and of Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Regional Development Fund (Official Journal of the European Union L371 of 27.12.2006), as amended from time to time, including by Commission Regulation (EC) No 846/2009 of 1 September 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 setting out rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and of Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Regional Development Fund (Official Journal of the European Union L250 of 23.09.2009).

[4] For the purpose of this Call, any translation of Italian laws or regulations is indicative only and the Applicant shall refer to the Italian text of any such law or regulation.

[5] According to Italian Law n. 381/91 social cooperatives have the purpose to pursue the general community interest in promoting human concerns and in the social integration of citizens by means of: a) the management of social, educational, and health services, or b) the development of agricultural, industrial, commercial or service activities aiming at the work insertion of less-advantaged people.

[6] Art. 1 of Legislative Decree 155/2006 (the “Social Enterprise Regulation”) provides that all the private organisations (including the entities mentioned in the fifth book of the Italian Civil Code who carry out an organised economic activity (in a stable manner and as a main activity) aimed at the production or trade of goods or services which have a social utility for the general interest and who meet the requirements of articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Social Enterprise Regulation, can obtain the status of “social enterprise”.

[7] For the purposes of this Call JER-050/1 and according to COM(2007) 708 final of 13.11.2007 this financial instrument aims “to promote entrepreneurship and economic initiative, to promote "flexi-curity", the social inclusion of disadvantaged persons and to develop human capital and renew trust-based social links”

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