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Lending for lift-off

21/06/2013

A microfinance initiative in Brussels is expanding its operations to reach small entrepreneurs and start-ups

The ‘microStart’ microfinance project in Brussels reports it has given 500 loans to small businesses over the past two years – creating and maintaining 300 jobs in the city. This success has led the project to open its first agency in the city of Liège in Wallonia where it hopes to reach out to the same group of small entrepreneurs. In Brussels, over half of the recipients were unemployed or inactive, 15% have no formal qualifications, 44% are women and 90% were born outside Belgium.

Access to minor amounts of credit is a major obstacle for small businesses and start-ups – microStart is working to overcome this with loans of up to €10 000. The beneficiaries are active mainly in the retail sector, with others in services, transport, hospitality, culture and construction. MicroStart is co-financed by the ESF.