€123 million in EU support for 5000 small businesses in the Baltic countries

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC) i, gepubliceerd op dinsdag 6 maart 2018.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Swedbank have signed a microfinance agreement aimed at supporting micro-businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

Thanks to the financial backing of the European Commission, the European Investment Fund is providing a guarantee which will enable Swedbank Baltic to provide up to EUR 123 million financing to microbusinesses in Baltic countries over the next three years. The deal also benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core element of the Investment Plan for Europe.

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “With the help of EU funding, Swedbank is increasing the access to finance in Baltic countries for micro-enterprises, including young entrepreneurs and the unemployed. This will benefit around 5000 small businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This financial support shows again that the European Commission is fully committed to boosting employment in Europe and getting more people into jobs, especially the most vulnerable people on the labour market."

Charlotte Elsnitz, Swedbank's Head of Baltic Banking, said: “As a home bank for tens of thousands of companies in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania we proudly enable access to needed investment capital for micro-enterprises. We are glad we have agreed the biggest EaSI guarantee limit in the region. The limit will help us to provide financing on favorable conditions to more than 5 000 small businesses in Baltic countries. The guarantee also expands access to financing to vulnerable groups such as young people lacking entrepreneurial experience or the unemployed. This is a step needed to secure a sustainable economic development in the region.”

EIF Head of Inclusive Finance, Per Erik Eriksson, commented: “We are delighted to be announcing a new EaSI guarantee agreement with Swedbank which is crucial for the continuation of support to micro-entrepreneurs across the Baltics. The guarantee from EIF will be instrumental in helping small businesses who may be having difficulties in accessing much needed finance for their business.”

About EIF

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 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. More information on EIF's work under EFSI is available here.

About EaSI

The European Commission’s Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) aims at supporting 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 by the European Commission and managed by EIF.

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, notably through 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 scheme, 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.

About the Investment Plan for Europe

The Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan, is one of the EU´s top priorities to boost investments and to create jobs and growth by removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects, and making smarter use of existing and new financial resources. With guarantees from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the EIB and EIF are able to take on a higher share of project risk, encouraging private investors to participate in the projects. The European Parliament and Member States agreed in December 2017 to extend EFSI's duration and increase its financial capacity. As of February 2018, the Juncker Plan is set to trigger more than €264 billion in investment across the EU.