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First EaSI microfinance deal in Belgium

    Date: 21 October 2016

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and microStart have signed the first microfinance guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro enterprises in Belgium under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

This new EaSI guarantee agreement with microStart covers a loan portfolio of EUR 15 million for micro-borrowers in Belgium. microStart will launch a new loan product - mS Scale Up, targeting a large spectrum of micro-loan products for micro-entrepreneurs seeking to further develop their businesses. This new product will offer longer maturities and higher maximum loan amounts.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: " Thanks to EU funding covering a loan portfolio of EUR 15 million, some 1300 micro-entrepreneurs in Belgium, and in particular those excluded from mainstream credit, will be able to benefit from loans on preferential terms. The funding will also allow microStart to launch a totally new product to provide even more support to microbusinesses seeking to expand. Through our EaSI programme, we remain committed to boosting employment in Europe and getting more people into jobs, with particular efforts directed towards the most vulnerable people in the labour market."

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “This first agreement in Belgium under the EaSI programme, will help microStart to further develop its product offering for micro-borrowers. We are pleased to have helped in the launch of microStart in 2009, allowing the organisation to lend EUR 18.3m as a result of our support. The signature today confirms our commitment to microStart and the microfinance community in Belgium.”

microStart, General Manager, Patrick Sapy said: “ We have built a very strong relationship with the EIF since 2010 and we are very proud that, after 5 years of development, we are allowed, through this new agreement, to test new credit products for our customers and enter a period of scaling up. Thanks to this fruitful cooperation with the European Commission and the EIF, we have supported the start-up and the development of 2.000 micro-enterprises and created 1.500 new jobs in the country”

Micro-entrepreneurs wishing to apply for a micro-loan under EaSI microfinance programme can contact microStart directly.

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 that are participating in the EaSI programme across the EU-28 and additional countries. 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") was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. It 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 EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund.

It 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.

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 193 million under the EaSI programme) to about EUR 1 billion, mobilising some EUR 3 billion in additional investment.

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 microStart

microStart is a group of social enterprises created in 2010 in Belgium with the support of Adie, the European Pioneering Microfinance organization, BNP Paribas Fortis and the European Investment Fund. microStart is providing loans up to 15.000 EUR as well as coaching in training for people that can not access banking credit. Since 2010, microStart disbursed nearly 3.000 loans to 2.000 micro-enterprises for an amount of EUR 18 Millions. More info on www.microStart.be

Press contact:

EIF: David Yormesor
Tel: +352 24 85 81 346, e-mail: d.yormesor@eif.org

microStart: Voice Agency – Karel Goethals
Tel.: +32 485 82 96 52

EU Commission: Sara Soumillion
Tel.: +32 22967094


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