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Europe supports social and micro-enterprises in Austria with EUR 10 million

    Date: 11 August 2016

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Erste Bank have signed a Social Entrepreneurship and a micro-finance guarantee agreement aimed at supporting more than 500 micro and social-enterprises in Austria under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSi)

These agreements enables Erste Bank to provide a total of EUR 10 million to over 500 micro and social entrepreneurs, many of whom face difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banking sources. Social entrepreneurs and micro-borrowers will be able to benefit from loans at a reduced interest rate, without providing collateral under the EU-supported programme.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "Thanks to EU funding, Erste Bank is opening a completely new credit line for social enterprises and will continue to provide microcredit and business services to 500 micro-entrepreneurs in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, social affairs and consumer protection in Austria. The unemployed and people with a migrant background that are usually excluded from commercial bank funding will benefit from loans on preferential conditions, and be able to create their own jobs. By improving access to finance in the social sectors and for the most vulnerable people, the European Commission is showing its commitment to fight poverty and social exclusion in Europe through the creation of jobs."

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “EUR 10 million for social and micro enterprises gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to start and grow their businesses in Austria. I am pleased that we are signing this microfinance and first social entrepreneurship guarantee agreement in Austria with Erste Bank– one of our key local partners under EaSI. In addition to a recent guarantee for Austrian SMEs signed earlier this year, EIF is helping to enhance access to finance for entrepreneurs, from supporting micro-borrowers to Small innovative Mid-Caps in the country.”

Erste Bank Oesterreich CEO Thomas Uher said: “I am personally very happy that we are the partner bank of this program in Austria. The cooperation showed us in the past years, what we can achieve with the microcredit programme. So I am even happier that we were able to continue and extend our engagement from now on. For the first time social enterprises will also profit from a completely new credit line we can open thanks to the EaSI guarantee.”The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. The EIF also signed a microfinance agreement with Erste Bank to benefit micro-enterprises.

Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a micro-loan under EaSI microfinance programme can contact Erste Bank and Sparkassen branches in Austria.[1] Start-Ups can turn to one of the GründerCenters (specialised start-up centers of Erste Bank and Sparkassen, www.gruender.at) directly or access the following web site: www.dermikrokredit.at.

Social-enterprises wishing to apply for a loan under EaSI can directly contact Erste Bank branches in Austria.         

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 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 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 micro-entrepreneurs and social enterprises that would not have been able to gain finance otherwise due to risk considerations. 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 Erste Bank

Erste Bank und Sparkassen is the largest provider of financial services in Austria. Around 15,500 staff attend to more than 3,4 million customers at over 1,100 branches and OMV banking service points. In 2015 Erste Bank und Sparkassen has helped 17,000 people to fulfill their dream of owning their own home, paid out 426 m. euro in interest to domestic savers and helped 6,000 young entrepreneurs to implement their business ideas.

Erste Group is the leading financial services provider in the Eastern part of the EU. Approximately 46,600 employees serve 15.8 million clients in more than 2,700 branches in 7 countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia). As per Q1 2016, Erste Group had EUR 206.4 billion in total assets, a net profit of EUR 274.7 million and  clean common equity tier-1 ratio (Basel 3, fully loaded) of 12.3%.

Press contact:

EIF: David Yormesor, tel: +352 42668 8346, e-mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

Erste Bank: Christian Hromatka, tel: +43 50 1001 3711,  e-mail: christian.hromatka@erstegroup.com  
Katrin Emig, tel: +43 501 001 3705, e-mail: katrin.emig@erstegroup.com

EU Commission: Christian WIGAND, +32 2 296 2253, Sara Soumillion, +32 2 296 7094

[1] Sparkassen in following Austrian states are participating: Carinthia, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Upper Austria, and Vorarlberg. All Sparkassen branches in these states can be contacted directly for EaSI micro-credits.


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