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EIF and JOBS MFI join forces to support Bulgarian micro-enterprises

    Date: 24 October 2019
  • BGN 10m (EUR 5.1m) envisaged to support 320 micro-enterprises
  • First Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI) guarantee to be implemented in Bulgaria
  • Distribution through JOBS and BDB branches, local Labour Ministry agencies, business centre networks
  • Agreement backed by the Juncker Plan

The European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the EIB Group, concluded the first microfinance guarantee agreement in Bulgaria, under the European Commission's Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI"). The agreement was signed with JOBS MFI, the microfinance dedicated subsidiary of the Bulgarian Development Bank.

This operation will support a small non-banking financial institution, dedicated to financing of the small-scale entrepreneurial sector in Bulgaria, by enhancing the access to financial services, with a potential multiplier effect on job creation and local economic development.

The transaction is backed by a guarantee from the EU budget, under the Investment Plan for Europe - the Juncker Plan - and its European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which allows the European Investment Bank Group to invest in more and often higher-risk operations.  

The EaSI guarantee, that will mobilise BGN 10m (approx. EUR 5.1m) for the benefit of 320 micro-enterprises, will support investment and working capital loans, both with fixed repayment schedule and revolving loans. It will cover also micro-leases granted to micro-enterprises and self-employed persons active in various sectors of economy, including to start-ups, with a particular emphasis on enterprises created by young entrepreneurs, women, artisans and small farmers.

The EaSI micro-credit portfolio will be originated in all Bulgarian regions. Distribution channels include JOBS and Bulgarian Development Bank’s (BDB) branches, local Labour Ministry agencies, business centre networks and potentially various online lending platforms.

Alessandro Tappi, EIF Chief Investment Officer stated: “This operation between EIF and JOBS MFI, implemented for the first time in Bulgaria, will improve access to finance for micro-enterprises operating particularly in rural areas characterized by a slower economic development. With its potential multiplier effect on job creation and local economic development it contributes to the improvement of the standard of living of the entrepreneurs’ families and to the development of the respective local communities in less advanced regions”.

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “I am delighted to see the first EaSI Guarantee agreement in Bulgaria come to fruition. Thanks to EU backing under the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation, around 320 micro-enterprises across Bulgaria will have enhanced access to finance. This is a prime example of the European Pillar of Social Rights in action, supporting employment and equal opportunities for all, including women and young entrepreneurs in rural areas who face difficulties in accessing finance to start up and grow their business.”

Quote by JOBS MFI representative: “The EaSI program is a financial instrument at EU level to promote a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. Leaning on its risk-sharing mechanism, JOBS MFI will increase the availability and accessibility of microfinance to vulnerable groups and micro-enterprises. The target groups who have difficulties in accessing the conventional credit market will receive a powerful tool for future development. This is the first direct agreement between JOBS MFI and EIF under EFSI 2 (Juncker Plan) and is a logical continuation of our Progress Microfinance Program. The EaSI guarantee is also the fourth EFSI agreement between the BDB Group and EIB group.

The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a loan under EaSI, can contact CBT branches.       

EIF will not provide direct financial support to enterprises but will implement the facility through local financial intermediaries, such as microfinance, social finance and guarantee institutions, as well as banks active across the EU-28 and additional countries that are participating in the EaSI programme. These intermediaries will deal with interested parties directly to provide support under the EaSI Guarantee.  

About the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation

The European Commission's Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI") aims at supporting the EU's objective of high level employment, adequate social protection, fighting against social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. The microfinance and social entrepreneurship axis of the EaSI programme provides support to financial intermediaries that offer microloans to entrepreneurs or finance to social enterprises. The objective is to increase access to microfinance, which includes microcredit i.e. loans of up to EUR 25,000, in particular for vulnerable persons and micro-enterprises. In addition, for the first time, the European Commission is supporting social enterprises through investments of up to EUR 500,000. The microfinance and social entrepreneurship support is currently being implemented through the EaSI Guarantee, which enables financial intermediaries to reach out to (potential) entrepreneurs that would not have been able to gain finance otherwise due to risk considerations. It is also being implemented through the ‘EaSI Capacity Building Investments Window’ to reinforce the capacity of financial intermediaries in the areas of microfinance and social finance through equity investments mostly. The European Commission has selected EIF to implement the EaSI Guarantee and the EaSI Capacity Building Investments Window.

Furthermore, the Commission is reinforcing the social dimension of the EFSI for both microfinance and social entrepreneurship. Overall, the total amount of support to these areas is expected to increase (from EUR 193m under the EaSI programme) to about EUR 1bn, mobilising some EUR 3bn in additional investment.

Background information:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union's bank. It is the long-term lending institution of the EU and is the only bank owned by and representing the interests of the European Union Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investments in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. The EIB works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy. As the world’s largest multilateral borrower and lender by volume, the EIB provides finance and expertise for sound and sustainable investment projects which contribute to furthering EU policy objectives. More than 90% of EIB activity is focused on Europe but the Bank also supports the EU's external and development policies.

The European Investment Fund is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. The EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments, which specifically target this market segment. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

Micro Financing Institution JOBS is part of the Bulgarian Development Bank Group. Its main purpose is to facilitate the access to long-term financing of the micro and small businesses, agricultural producers, freelancers, craftsmen and others who develop or start new business creating jobs and products with added value. JOBS MFI is using effective models and practices in the area of microfinance and has create conditions for successful development of the micro business by supporting 2,600 companies for over EUR 17m up until now.

About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe, known as the Juncker Plan, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the main pillar of the Juncker Plan and provides first loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more projects that often come with greater risks. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI are expected to mobilise about EUR 439.4bn in investments.

More information on the results of the Investment Plan for Europe is available here.

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