How it works

The European Commission supports access to funding for businesses through local financial institutions in EU countries. Many types of funding are available, including loans, microfinance and guarantees or equity funding through venture capital funds, business angels or social investors. These institutions determine the exact financing conditions – the amount, duration, interest rates and fees.

Reduced interest rates, larger financing volumes or smaller collateral requirements are among the advantages of the EU support.

The implementation of financing programmes is predominantly handled by the EIB Group: the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF).

Financing programmes

European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)

Supporting access to finance for SMEs is one of the key objectives of EFSI, the first pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. EFSI has a dedicated SME Window offering up to a total of EUR 5.5bn of either funding resources or guarantee capacity to support a number of products to be implemented through the European Investment Fund (EIF).

Thanks to EFSI, equity funding from venture capital or private equity funds is channelled to high-potential start-ups and growth companies and supported loans are offered to SMEs with a higher risk profile, those active in research and innovation or undertaking social activities, in coordination with the other EU programmes focusing on SMEs (see below). This goes beyond the support which could have been carried out by the EIF or under existing EU financial instruments without the EFSI guarantee. To find out more, visit the Investment Plan website.

Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME)

COSME aims to make it easier for SMEs to access finance in all phases of their lifecycle – creation, expansion, or business transfer. Businesses have easier access to guarantees, loans and equity capital. EU ‘financial instruments’ are channelled through local financial institutions in EU countries. To find out more, visit the COSME website.

InnovFin

"InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" is a joint initiative launched by the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) in cooperation with the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. InnovFin consists of a series of integrated and complementary financing tools and advisory services offered by the EIB Group, covering the entire value chain of research and innovation in order to support investments from the smallest to the largest enterprise. To find out more, visit the InnovFin website.

EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)

The Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme is a financing instrument at EU level to promote a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. The target beneficiaries are vulnerable groups, micro-enterprises and social enterprises. To find out more, visit the EaSI website.

Cultural and Creative Sector Guarantee Facility (CCSGF)

In the context of limited access to finance for the cultural and creative sectors, the Creative Europe programme provides guarantees to financial intermediaries (e.g. banks) offering financing to cultural and creative sector initiatives. The programme offers loans and other financial products to creative enterprises. In addition, financial intermediaries will be provided training to better understand the needs of cultural and creative sector projects, with a view to increasing their engagement with the sector. To find out more, visit the CCSGF website.

 

ECFIN does not provide direct financial support to individual businesses or entrepreneurs. Those interested should refer directly to the above-mentioned financial intermediaries.

Find out more about the main funding opportunities available for SMEs