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First Greek EaSI microfinance agreement for small businesses

    Date: 10 May 2016

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa have signed the first guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Greece under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

This new EaSI guarantee agreement with the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa will cover a loan portfolio of EUR 5 million for over 300 micro-borrowers targeting mainly farmers, young unemployed borrowers, cooperatives and social enterprises, as well as micro businesses active in the green economy. The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the EIF.

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: "Unlocking investments in the Greek economy is key to create jobs. I warmly welcome today's agreement with the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa which will give 300 micro entrepreneurs, including social enterprises, the opportunity to benefit from €5 million loans to create their own jobs and develop their business. The European Commission remains fully committed to creating inclusive growth in Europe"

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “I am delighted that we are signing our first EaSI microfinance agreement in Greece. The guarantee for the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa  will not only help the bank to provide more finance to Greek micro-entrepreneurs but additional services including mentoring and networking will help companies to grow. ”

The Cooperative Bank of Karditsa’s President, Georgios Boukis said: ”It is a great honour for us being the first bank in Greece to sign this guarantee agreement with the EIF, and is also an important recognition for both the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa and the role of Cooperative Banks in Greece. We are confident that today's agreement will be the beginning of a jointly fruitful cooperation for the common benefit of local development and the Greek Economy.”

The Cooperative Bank of Karditsa’s Managing Director, Panagiotis Tournavitis said: "For our Bank microfinance has never been a simple banking product but a complete service to our clientele, granting access to finance to opportunity entrepreneurs, micro, small and social economy enterprises etc. in close cooperation with our partners, offering in parallel supportive and mentoring mechanisms and disseminating best practices.

It is important to mention that this is not a one off project but a committed initiative undertaken by Cooperative Bank of Karditsa to build competences and disseminate knowledge throughout the network of Greek Cooperative Banks; a well-designed step in a strategy to build a microfinance culture and also an efficient network to use the tool. We are certain that this will be the first of more initiatives to come always in close cooperation with EIF and the European Commission."

Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a micro-loan under EaSI can directly contact the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa branches in Greece.         

EIF does not provide direct financial support to enterprises but implements 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

Under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI), the European Commission supports microfinance and social entrepreneurship finance with an overall envelope of EUR 193 million for the period 2014-2020. The aim is to increase access to microfinance for vulnerable groups who want to set up or develop their business and micro-enterprises, through notably loans of up to EUR 25,000. In addition, for the first time, the European Commission is helping social enterprises through loans 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 micro-entrepreneurs that would not have been able to gain finance otherwise due to risk considerations, and to social enterprises. The European Commission has selected EIF to implement the EaSI Guarantee.

About the European Investment Fund

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 (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

For further information on EU microfinance and social entrepreneurship support please refer to:

EaSI Programme       

EU support to social entrepreneurship

About the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa

The Cooperative Bank of Karditsa (CBK) was founded in 1994 upon the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Karditsa. It operates in the region of Thessaly, has more than 7.500 members and serves a clientele of more than 20.000 clients, mostly micro, small and social economy enterprises. CBK is also a member of the Association of Greek Cooperative Banks and Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (FEBEA) and has highly invested in the agenda of microfinance and access to finance of social enterprises and is an active partner in EU initiatives and projects granted by the European Commission.

Press contact:

EIF: David Yormesor, tel: +352 42 66 88 346, e-mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

The Cooperative Bank of Karditsa: Olga LOIA, tel: +30 2441080881, e-mail: easi_team@bankofkarditsa.com

EU Commission: Christian WIGAND  +32 2 296 22 53, Tove ERNST +32 2 298 67 64


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