€24 million for cultural and creative small businesses in Belgium via ST’ART, a specialised investment fund financing cultural and creative industries, in conjunction with the European Investment Fund (EIF) and InvestEU

    Date: 13 March 2023
  • New funding and easier access to financing will be provided by ST’ART for cultural and creative businesses in the Wallonia and Brussels regions of Belgium.
  • The operation signed with the EIF falls under the European Union’s new “InvestEU” programme and will enable up to €24 million in financing.
  • An initial programme (CCS GF) launched in 2018 has supported around 80 projects and the implementation of the Culture and First Step loans.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is providing ST’ART with access to the InvestEU guarantee facility. Thanks to this operation, ST’ART will be able to launch new products and offer up to €24 million of financing to cultural and creative businesses in Wallonia and Brussels over the next three years. These loans will benefit from favourable conditions, including lower interest rates.

This portfolio guarantee operation aims to promote and expand access to finance for companies operating in the cultural and creative industries.

Following the repeated crises affecting these sectors since 2020, this facility has the goal of fostering redeployment and resilience across an entire strand of activity that is key for the European economy and its influence.

Accessing credit may also be difficult for companies in these sectors, mainly due to: the intangible nature of their assets and a lack of guarantees; the limited size of the market; uncertain demand; and a lack of financial intermediaries capable of addressing the specific features of the sector.

ST’ART works with small and medium-sized enterprises and has provided them with wide-ranging support in recent years, keeping up the pace of its investment. This has taken the form not only of loans and equity investments, but also of a series of innovative and useful initiatives.

The investment fund supports the creation, growth and development of startup or established businesses by providing them with a financing solution at each stage of their life cycle.

This new guarantee will enable ST’ART to:

  • Launch new lending products for companies in the cultural and creative sectors to meet the short-term financing needs of production entities (for example exhibitions, audiovisual, performing arts and video games).
    • The Production Funding Loan (Prêt Trésorerie Production) launched today is ST’ART's first short-term loan. It will enable the pre-financing of a specific cultural production within a set time frame in certain sectors, and for which income is generally known and under contract. This is a hotly anticipated solution, as many producers reach a roadblock in their project due to a lack of funding.

Also available is the Enterprise Funding Loan (Prêt Trésorerie Entreprise), which meets a specific, ad hoc and short-term need.

  • Continue to offer (existing) lending products launched under the previous guarantee facility: CCS GF, with improved conditions for eligible final beneficiaries.

CCS GF (Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility) guaranteed 78 loans and helped launch the Culture Loan, with beneficiaries including Musée Horta for the opening of the Maison Hannon and Aquarium Muséum de Liège for the complete overhaul of its museum experience. This guarantee also contributed to the development of the First Step Loan used by companies such as Levita and Elysta, which were able to grow and are now experiencing market success in Belgium and abroad. Lastly, more seasoned companies like Tempora and Strictly Confidential used the Classic Loan to expand their international ambitions.

  • Offer more favourable conditions to companies by reducing interest rates.

With estimated revenue of €643 billion and added value of €253 billion in 2019, the cultural and creative industries account for 4.4% of EU gross domestic product in terms of turnover, making a bigger economic contribution than telecoms, advanced technology, pharmaceuticals and automotive. (Source: panorama EY 2021)

Minister-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Pierre-Yves Jeholet said: “This is a real opportunity for the cultural and creative sectors in Belgium. ST’ART will continue to support the creation, growth and development of businesses and offer new products. The guarantee facility gives entrepreneurs a real opportunity.”

EIF Chief Executive Marjut Falkstedt added: “We are very happy to be renewing our partnership with ST’ART to extend InvestEU support to businesses active in the cultural and creative sectors in Wallonia and Brussels. These businesses deserve our support for the important role they play in shaping society around us — culture shapes today, and creativity shapes tomorrow. Today’s agreement will make financing available on beneficial terms for a sector that has historically struggled with access to finance, so we are very glad to be doing our part.”

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said: “InvestEU is playing an important role across Europe in helping businesses gain access to the finance they need to innovate, expand and create jobs. Thanks to this InvestEU agreement, cultural organisations active in Brussels and Wallonia will unlock funds that will allow them to make their projects a reality. I am proud that InvestEU will play a role in supporting our cultural heritage and building a vibrant creative industry.”

Background information

About InvestEU

The InvestEU programme provides the European Union with long-term funding by leveraging substantial private and public funds in support of a sustainable economy. It helps generate additional investments in line with EU policy priorities, such as the European Green Deal, the digital transition and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. InvestEU brings all EU financial instruments together under one roof, making funding for investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible. The programme consists of three components: the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub, and the InvestEU Portal. The InvestEU Fund is implemented through financial partners who invest in projects using the EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion. This guarantee increases their risk-bearing capacity, thus mobilising at least €372 billion in additional investment.

About the EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its main goal is to support microenterprises and SMEs by helping them to access finance. The EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments that specifically target this market segment. In this role, the EIF contributes to the pursuit of key EU policy objectives such as competitiveness and growth, innovation and digitalisation, social impact, skills and human capital, climate action and environmental sustainability.


ST’ART is an investment fund active since 2010. It offers financing solutions to creative and cultural companies based in Wallonia and Brussels. The sectors targeted by ST’ART are architecture, performing arts, plastic and digital arts, audiovisual, design, publishing, video games, cultural mediation, fashion and textiles, museums, music and heritage. The fund provides loans and equity investments. With over €26 million already invested in the various sub-sectors to date, this new guarantee facility will boost its investments by expanding its existing products and will enable the development of new products. www.start-invest.be

Press contacts

European Investment Fund (EIF):
Sabine Parisse, s.parisse@eib.org, tel.: +352 4379 83340, mobile: +352 621 459 159
Website: www.eif.org/press — Press Office: +352 4379 21000 — press@eib.org

ST’ART: Aurélie Delanote
Email: aurelie.delanote@start-invest.be, tel.: +32 (0)65 39 47 10

Wallonia-Brussels Federation: Nicolas Reynders
Email: nicolas.reynders@gov.cfwb.be, tel.: +32 (0)473 27 14 79
Note: Following the recent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, we are updating the relevant EIF.org pages.


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