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EIF unlocks €4.65 million to support entrepreneurship and job creation in Roma communities under the EaSI programme

    Date: 11 April 2022
  • The EIF, backed by the European Union, and REDI will support more than 300 small businesses in Roma communities in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia
  • The guarantee agreement is part of the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)
  • This is the first dedicated EU financial instrument that supports entrepreneurship and jobs in Roma communities

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has signed a guarantee agreement with REDI Economic Development S.A. (REDI) that will make €4.65 million available to enhance access to finance for entrepreneurs operating in Roma communities in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia. This initiative, backed by the European Union and provided under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI), will have a strong impact on Roma communities, ensuring financing for more than 300 small businesses and the creation of at least 1 000 jobs.

The funds will be available to microenterprises active in marginalised Roma communities, who will be able to take out loans of up to €25 000. On top of financial support, REDI will also provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs to support outreach to these Roma communities and understand their specific business development needs. This is the first EU financial instrument specifically aimed at Roma communities, ensuring inclusive employment opportunities and the development of specific financial products and services for this group.

EIF Chief Executive Alain Godard said: “The proposed guarantee transaction with REDI under the EaSI programme will enable access to funding for entrepreneurs active in Roma communities in order to boost economic development and job creation. This is the first instrument specifically aimed at this vulnerable social group, which could also open up a new market segment for specialist financial institutions.”

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit said: “The EU is a union of equality: it actively promotes the social and economic inclusion of people who are marginalised in our societies. Principle three of the European Pillar of Social Rights is the right to equal opportunities, which is an essential element of a social market economy. The EU-funded EaSI programme will help address persisting discrimination in the European Union, and allow entrepreneurs from marginalised Roma communities to fulfil their business ambitions.”

Petrica Dulgheru, board member of the REDI Fund and Chairman of the REDI NGO as shareholder, said: “The REDI Fund is based on the assumption that Roma communities can be developed from within if Roma entrepreneurs are supported in growing their businesses and generating employment. After years of building a support ecosystem, we are now ready to add access to finance to the services we provide in the region.”

Background information:

The EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) aims to support the European Union’s objective of promoting high-level employment, guaranteeing adequate social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty, and improving working conditions. It does this by increasing access to microfinance for vulnerable groups who want to set up or develop their businesses and microenterprises through loans of up to €25 000, and for social enterprises through investments of up to €500 000. The EaSI programme’s Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship axis consists of a range of EU-level financial instruments funded by the European Union and managed by the European Investment Fund. For more information, see https://www.eif.org/what_we_do/microfinance/easi/easi-funded-instrument/index.htm.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) 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 that specifically target this market segment. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment. For more information, see https://www.eif.org

REDI is an investment vehicle registered in Luxembourg since November 2019, with the Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative NGO (REDI NGO) as the sole shareholder. Soros Economic Development Fund and the Roma Initiatives Office are part of the Open Society Foundations, which have supported the initiative since its founding by providing it with resources for technical assistance, capacity building, and initial lending capital. It is the first microfinance investment vehicle with a specific focus on Roma entrepreneurs and with a strategic goal of providing a new market for financial institutions, which will be more willing to grant microloans to Roma, who are considered to be individuals at risk and who typically come from very vulnerable communities. REDI’s main activity is offering risk-sharing debt products to banking and non-banking financial institutions, alongside mandatory business development services. For more information, see https://redi-ngo.eu/.”

Press contacts:

EIB Group: Gordana Kovačević, g.kovacevic@ext.eib.org, tel.: +381 60 323 343 5
Website: www.eib.org/press – Press Office: +352 4379 21000 – press@eib.org

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