Financial Intermediary: France Active
SME: AfB France
Sector: IT equipment, social enterprise
Number of employees: +/- 40
Job creation: 8+
Financing purpose: to open a new store in Grenoble
A disability-friendly company, AfB, which stands for 'Arbeit für Behinderte' in German ('Employment for people with disabilities'), prioritises disabled people in its recruitment policies. They make up approximately 80% of AfB's workforce.
Thanks to a €40,000 France Active loan, which was counter-guaranteed €20,000 through the EU's COSME programme, Éric opened a new store in Grenoble in 2016. He did so to develop social connections by creating jobs close to some major partners. The loan enabled him to find a location, carry out building works, set up a new shop and take on 8 workers. He plans to hire more workers in 2017.
France Active had confidence in the project immediately since its effectiveness and viability had already been demonstrated in Germany. Éric is well aware of the vital role played by the intermediary: 'France Active provided the credibility which the project needed, in order for our bank, Crédit Coopératif, to have confidence in us. The fact that I didn't have to provide any personal guarantees was very encouraging. Without the support of France Active and the European Union, I am sure my journey would have been more difficult.'
A pioneer in socially-committed finance, the France Active network has signed an agreement with the European Investment Fund (EIF) guaranteeing COSME loans. This financial support from the European Union to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) assists France Active in its activities. The finance made available to entrepreneurs by the France Active network is fully tailored to their needs, and it also provides access to a network of economic and social players. Every year, France Active provides support to more than 7,000 entrepreneurs.
'The European COSME programme enables us to support entrepreneurs in need of finance and is thus particularly well suited to France Active's remit. Of the enterprises that we routinely support and finance, socially-engaged SMEs, enterprises run by women and very small enterprises are key target groups for the European Investment Fund.' - Zoé Boissel, head of communication, France Active.
Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing: http://www.access2finance.eu