The European Investment Fund (EIF) and UniCredit Leasing SIA (UCL) have signed the first loan agreement in the Baltics under Progress Microfinance with funding from the European Union.
The Progress Microfinance €18m loan agreement will allow UCL to provide enhanced access to finance to over 1,000 micro-entrepreneurs in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, many of whom face difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banking sources.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen said: "The European Commission is fully committed to promoting entrepreneurship and supporting the microfinance sector in the fight against social and financial exclusion. Today's agreement will enable over 1,000 micro-entrepreneurs in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to gain access to credit, thereby creating jobs and stimulating the economy from the foundations up".
Progress Microfinance is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. Businesses wishing to apply for loans can directly contact UCL’s branches in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
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.
The European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance) provides guarantees and funded instruments to microfinance intermediaries. The initiative is established with EUR 205 million of funding from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. Progress Microfinance aims to increase access to finance for micro-entrepreneurs, including the self-employed.