InvestEU: EIF signs agreement with Erste Group using EU guarantee to unlock finance for social enterprises

    Date: 26 May 2023
  • The EIF has provided an InvestEU guarantee of €53 million to Erste Group Bank AG and 11 additional banks in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
  • This guarantee agreement is supported by the Social Investment and Skills window of the InvestEU programme, and is the first in Austria to support social enterprises.
  • The transaction will give social enterprises access to financing to start up or further develop lines of business.

Backed by the Social Investment and Skills window of the InvestEU programme, the European Investment Fund (EIF) has signed a guarantee agreement for €53 million with Erste Group that is expected to unlock more than €66 million for social entrepreneurs operating in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The transaction should benefit more than 500 social enterprises, which often have trouble obtaining credit, and create around 1 750 jobs.

The agreement will allow Erste Group to offer better financing conditions for social enterprises. These firms will also benefit from specialised capacity building and networking opportunities. All these initiatives aim to empower social enterprises and strengthen their impact.

Thanks to its social banking programme, Erste Group has established itself as a leader in financing social enterprises in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. More than 1 000 social enterprises have obtained loans through the programme, preserving or creating 16 242 jobs between 2016 and 2021. Erste Group also participated in the EU Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme, a financing instrument promoting high quality and sustainable employment that ran from 2014 to 2021.

The new agreement under InvestEU will enable Erste Group to build on this success. Thanks to the participation of four Austrian savings banks in the guarantee programme, Erste Group will be able to promote social enterprise support in east Austria for firms not caught by the previous umbrella transaction under the EaSI programme. The transaction is also expected to have a strong positive impact on the social economy in the CEE region, which is not yet equally developed and stands to benefit greatly from a targeted instrument. To this end, Erste Group can count on the participation of all its subsidiary banks in the region.

Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, explained, “InvestEU plays an important role in stimulating investments in the social economy. Thanks to this agreement, many social enterprises will get the financial and non-financial support they need to grow, create new employment opportunities, and develop new solutions for the societal challenges we face.”

EIF Chief Executive Marjut Falkstedt added, “Social enterprises often face challenges in obtaining finance to start up and develop their activities. Yet they are a key driver for economic development and employment. With the financing made available thanks to the InvestEU programme and through our partnership with Erste Group and the participating banks, we expect to boost both economic and social growth in Austria and the CEE region.”

Rainer Hauser, Head of Group Strategy at Erste Group, stated, “Rooted in its founding as a savings bank in the early nineteenth century, Erste Group, along with its subsidiaries, has always been devoted to the idea of inclusive growth and social responsibility. Social organisations are tackling some of the most pressing issues in our societies. By doing so, they serve as important multipliers for disseminating financial health across our region. With the help of instruments such as InvestEU, we can reach more social organisations and support them by offering financing and capacity building. This is something that we at Erste take very seriously.”

Background information

About InvestEU

The InvestEU programme provides the European Union with crucial long-term funding by leveraging substantial private and public funds in support of a sustainable recovery. It also helps mobilise private investment for EU policy priorities, such as the European Green Deal and the digital transition. InvestEU brings together under one roof the multitude of EU financial instruments previously available to support investment in the European Union, 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 deployed through implementing partners who will invest in projects using the EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion. The entire budget guarantee will back the investment projects of the implementing partners, increase their risk-bearing capacity and thus mobilise at least €372 billion in additional investment. The Social Investments and Skills window of the InvestEU programme covers areas such as microfinance, social enterprise finance, skills, education, training and related services and social infrastructure (including health and educational infrastructure and social and student housing).

About the EIB Group

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union, owned by its Member States. It finances sound investment contributing towards EU policy goals.

The EIB’s key priorities are climate and the environment, development, innovation and skills, small businesses, infrastructure and cohesion. It works closely with other EU institutions to foster European integration, promote the development of the European Union and support EU policies in more than 140 countries worldwide.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the EIB Group. Its central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises 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. For more information, see

About Erste Group

Erste Group is the leading financial services provider in the eastern part of the European Union. Its staff of around 45 000 employees (full-time equivalent) at over 2 000 branches serve more than 16 million customers in seven countries (Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia). For the first quarter of 2023, Erste Group had €343 billion in total assets, posted a net profit of €594 million and had a Common Equity Tier 1 ratio (CRR, pro forma) of 14.4%.

For more information

Questions and answers: InvestEU 

InvestEU website 

EIF and InvestEU website 

EIB and InvestEU website 

EIB Advisory Services under InvestEU 

Press contacts

EIB Group
Serena Sertore (, tel.: +352 437 970 859
Website: — Press Office: +352 4379 21000 — 

European Commission:
Flora Matthaes (, tel.: +32 229 83951 

Erste Group
Martin Sonn-Wende ( tel.: +43 50100 11680

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