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European Social Fund Plus

ESF financial instruments win trophies at FI-Compass 2023

2023 winners fi-compass
(c) European Union

The 2023 flagship event of the Fi-compass platform for ESF and other funds’ financial instruments, took the stage from 13 - 15 March 2023. The event celebrated success stories, and offered the opportunity to discuss the role of the financial instruments implemented under shared management with the Member States during challenging times. This year’s edition of the traditional Showcase Trophy was awarded to instruments contributing to ‘financing a sustainable and inclusive Europe’ – the topic of the 2023 edition.   

Organised by the European Commission in partnership with the European Investment Bank, the event spotlighted the impact these investments – ranging from micro-enterprises with a global reach to funding start-ups that addressing social exclusion – have on the ground.  The event and the trophy are an initiative of Fi-compass – the platform which supports the EU shared management partners and authorities, by providing practical know-how and learning tools on financial instruments.  

The awards are open to financial instruments for implementing the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund – which makes the competition extremely difficult.  

And the winners are…   

BGK – financing the foundations of social inclusion 

A restaurant run by the visually impaired, an active seniors’ centre, a social cooperative and a social brewery are just 4 of the 1 900 social enterprises that benefitted from BGK's ESF-powered loans. Thanks to financial instruments financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK) — the Polish Development Bank — supports the development of cooperatives, foundations, associations and other social economy entities created by people at risk of exclusion and employing individuals from disadvantaged groups: seniors, persons with disability or at risk of exclusion. 

Invega – better access to finance for innovative and social enterprise 

Co-supported by the ERDF and ESF, INVEGA, the Lithuanian National Promotional Institution aims to facilitate access to finance for innovative businesses and social enterprises.  Through the instrument, projects have helped over 50 Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Ukrainian businesses established in Lithuania and social impact companies. The instrument also includes the Accelerator fund and Accelerator 2, venture capital instruments that supported more than 100 innovative micro and small enterprises to develop their products and services locally and around the globe. 

The Sustainable Cities Fund – helping cities thrive 

The third winner is the Sustainable Cities Fund in Bulgaria which has financed more than 70 projects in the country, thanks to ERDF financial instruments. From the restoration of schools, markets and theatres, to the renovation of parks, the Fund is helping cities thrive and become more sustainable. 

The Sustainable Cities Fund’s mission is to foster economic and urban development in Bulgaria, making the most of EU and National resources through financial instruments. 

This year’s competition demonstrated the impact of financial instruments on transforming people's lives and boosting social enterprise across Europe.