European micro-loans - how to get the smallest business up and running
Individuals or companies with fewer than 10 employees can get going with the help of European microfinancing. For assistance with material, logistics or administration, microStart offers support to local small businesses in Brussels.
microStart is a Belgian micro-credit provider which assists Belgian micro-entrepreneurs who are unable to obtain financial support through the traditional banking system due to a lack of resources. Since they opened earlier this year, the two microStart branches in Brussels have approved 30 micro-loans worth 1,000 to 10,000 euro. These micro-loans have been used, for instance, to assist start-ups by market traders, small restaurants and Internet shops.
microStart benefits from the European Progress Microfinance Facility. Rather than grant loans to companies or individuals directly, the Facility supports entrepreneurs through official bodies like microStart. Via the Facility, the European Commission and the European Investment Fund enable loans of up to 25,000 euro to be made. The Facility aims to help those with limited access to the conventional credit market: female entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs belonging to a minority group, entrepreneurs with a disability, sole traders, etc. In the case of Brussels, for example, most of the beneficiaries have a immigrant background.
Microfinancing is essential for employment and growth: 99% of start-ups in Europe are micro or small enterprises, while a third of them are initiatives launched by people out of work. Five countries to date have benefited from the micro-loans offered within the framework of Progress Microfinance (Belgium, Bulgaria, Netherlands , Poland, Romania) and negotiations are ongoing with two more (Lithuania, Cyprus).