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EIF and the Sicily Region sign a new EUR 15m JEREMIE Holding Fund agreement to support micro-businesses

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    Date: 14 December 2010
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The Chief Executive of the EIF, Mr Richard Pelly, and the President of the Sicily Region, Mr Raffaele Lombardo signed an agreement today in Rome to set up a JEREMIE Holding Fund under the European Social Fund (ESF). The EUR 15 million Fund will provide financial support for Sicilian micro- enterprises, with a particular emphasis on social improvement and social inclusion.

This new pilot agreement is the first Holding Fund agreement in the European Union funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), managed by the EIF.

EIF’s Chief Executive Richard Pelly said “We are pleased to be providing additional finance for small businesses in Sicily to help promote employment and growth.

This innovative EUR 15 million Funding Agreement will focus on promoting social improvement and social inclusion via microcredit schemes and social microfinance products for SMEs in Sicily.”

The fund will establish partnerships with selected financial institutions to channel resources to social sector and microcredit initiatives. The initiatives supported under the Holding fund will help to improve entrepreneurship, innovation and creation of new companies while promoting self-employment opportunities and encouraging social inclusion.

President of the Sicilian region, Raffaele Lombardo added “This agreement creates a valuable financial instrument to support Sicilian SMEs. The revolving nature of the Holding Fund allows us to reach even more entrepreneurs than the traditional grant scheme. As with previous agreements signed in 2009 with the EIB and EIF, the Sicily region will again be a pilot example for other Italian regions. Sicily in fact is the first region in Europe to re-invest resources from ESF into JEREMIE.” 

This is the third JEREMIE agreement in Italy signed by EIF following the one signed with the Campania Region two years ago and the one signed one year ago with Sicily (to support SMEs through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The JEREMIE Holding Fund has a revolving nature ensuring long-term support for small businesses and will not provide grants to beneficiaries.
With additional finance from potential external investors, the Holding Fund agreement could even reach the amount of EUR 30 million.

This is a revolving fund ensuring long-term support for small businesses and will not provide grants to beneficiaries.

The EUR 15m Holding Fund in Sicily adds to the EUR 1 billion that the EIF is managing through various JEREMIE holding funds across the European Union, using structural funds to bring a new sustainable approach to SME financing.

About JEREMIE

JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) is a joint initiative launched by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group to improve access to finance for SMEs in the EU within the structural funds framework for the period 2007 - 2013. JEREMIE enables the EU member states and regions to put money from the structural funds, co-financed by national resources, into holding funds that can indirectly finance SMEs in a flexible and innovative way. Since the instruments are designed on a repayable basis, funding returned will be reinvested and hence more SMEs will benefit from the EU resources.

In Sicily the JEREMIE Holding Fund is financed by EU Structural Funds under the Operational Programme  (Cohesion Policy 2007-2013) for the 2007-2013 programming period.

About EIF

EIF's central mission is to support Europe's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance.  EIF designs and develops venture capital and guarantees 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. The EIF total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 4.6bn by Sept 2010. With investments in over 300 funds, the EIF is a leading player in European venture due to the scale and the scope of its investments, especially in high-tech and early-stage segments. The EIF commitment in guarantees totaled over EUR 13.6bn in over 160 operations, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

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