The EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) aims to promote employment and social inclusion by increasing access to, and the availability of, microfinance for micro-enterprises, as well as for vulnerable people who wish to start up or develop their own micro-enterprise. In addition, the programme seeks to build up the institutional capacity of microfinance institutions.
EaSI Technical Assistance is the non-financial component of the programme designed to support public and private financial intermediaries within the microfinance sector in Europe to improve their operations and widen their outreach to enable more people to access finance in Europe.
The EaSI Technical Assistance includes the following services:
- Institutional assessments to identify a microfinance institution’s needs and areas for improvement
- Tailored trainings on various topics that aim to improve the quality of internal processes of the microfinance institutions
- Investment readiness trainings
- Financial or social ratings (optional)
- European Code of Good Conduct implementation trainings and compliance evaluations - a prerequisite for microfinance institutions that want to benefit from the EaSI Financial Instruments and EaSI Technical Assistance
- Events to facilitate the sharing and dissemination of best practices (e.g. peer-to-peer trainings, study visits, and microfinance workshops)
- A dedicated Helpdesk to facilitate the sharing of best practices and increase awareness within the microfinance sector in Europe
Institutional assessments serve to evaluate a microfinance institution’s level of development. This is done through a qualitative analysis of the institution’s governance and strategy, financial sustainability and asset liability management, systems and controls, as well as its social performance and client protection.
Since the institutional assessment provides guidance that takes into account both international best practices and the local context, it is beneficial to a wide range of institutions, including young microfinance institutions or other providers that may not have yet achieved financial sustainability.
Institutional assessments are important for the needs analysis, in order to identify the most important priorities in terms of technical assistance needs.
Tailored trainings help microfinance institutions develop sustainable and responsible business models. They focus on topics identified through a needs analysis for each institution. These training services are free-of-charge and limited to microfinance institutions selected under a call for expression of interest.
Tailored trainings may be delivered in one or several sessions of varying duration - up to 12 days in total. Examples of topics that may be covered during a tailored training are:
- Good governance (including social performance)
- Strategic planning
- Risk management
- Management information systems (MIS) and
- Others based on the results of the needs analysis
Investment readiness trainings
Investment readiness trainings aim to help microfinance institutions prepare to take on investments, loans, grants, or guarantees. The trainings explain in detail the mechanisms of specific financial instruments and their legal implications regarding rights, obligations, liability and indemnity. Investment readiness trainings have a maximum duration of 3 days.
There are two types of investment readiness trainings:
- Trainings preparing an institution for negotiations with the European Investment Fund (EIF) with the aim of facilitating microfinance institutions’ access to the EaSI financial instruments that are implemented by the EIF on behalf of the European Commission. These are open to both EaSI Technical Assistance selected beneficiaries, but also for other microfinance institutions that are in the process of applying for the EaSI financial instruments.
- Trainings preparing an institution for negotiations with other investors, lenders or funders. These trainings are open only to microfinance institutions selected under a call for expression of interest to access technical assistance.
Both tailored trainings and investment readiness trainings are provided in English, or, upon request, in the national language of the beneficiary. They may take the form of interactive classroom seminars, more hands-on formats such as coaching, or a blended learning approach, which combines online and face-to-face interaction.
Who can apply?
Public and private financial intermediaries that provide microfinance:
- Greenfield microfinance institutions (operating for less than three years)
- Non-bank microcredit providers
- Licensed banks
- Guarantee granting entities
in one of the EaSI eligible countries of operation (EU Member States as well as Albania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Turkey).
How to apply?
Public and private financial intermediaries may benefit from the EaSI Technical Assistance for microfinance services if they have
- committed to follow the guidelines of the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision (through sign-up or endorsement – the latter in case of licensed banks and licensed guarantee granting institutions)
- been selected under an open call for expression of interest for Technical Assistance for microfinance
Once selected, the EaSI Technical Assistance for microfinance beneficiary institution should contact the two service providers contracted by the European Commission:
- MFR for Institutional Assessments and Code Evaluations
- The Frankfurt School-led Consortium for Tailored and Investment Readiness Trainings, all EaSI Technical Assistance events and the Helpdesk service
Workshops, peer-to-peer trainings and study visits
Three types of events are organised under EaSI Technical Assistance for microfinance:
- Peer-to-peer trainings
- Study visits
Workshops on microfinance related topics are open to all interested microfinance institutions and the wider public in Europe.
Microfinance workshops aim to help participants exchange best practices in applying advanced tools and disseminating knowhow in the sector. The aim of a workshop is to encourage mutual learning amongst institutions on key topics, which should enhance their competencies and knowledge, and identify key issues in capacity building in the field of microfinance.
All events are usually organised in English, however upon request, simultaneous translation or implementation in other languages are possible.
Refer to Related events section below for all upcoming events under the EaSI Technical Assistance Programme.
Peer-to-peer trainings are open to EaSI Technical Assistance beneficiaries selected through an open call for expression of interest, as well as other European microfinance institutions.
Peer-to-peer trainings take the form of interactive classroom seminars and provide an opportunity for microfinance institutions to learn from the experiences and best practices of others. In a peer-to-peer training, experienced practitioners in strategy development and operational procedures from one or more institutions provide a training session to the staff and partners of the requesting microfinance institutions on issues relevant for them.
Study visits are invitation-only events, organised exclusively for EaSI Technical Assistance beneficiaries selected through an open call for expression of interest.
A study visit aims to provide inspiration and encourage mutual learning, facilitate access to networks and expertise, as well as an exchange of best practices and tools between the hosting and attending institutions. Most study visits take the format of a field visit and last up to 2 days.
Ratings and Code evaluations
Microfinance institutions selected as EaSI Technical Assistance beneficiaries through an open call for expression of interest may receive optional Financial or Social Ratings if requested by the European Commission.
Ratings are in-depth, comprehensive assessments of the provider’s performance based on financial or social indicators. They can be an effective tool to improve the institution’s operations, to access new sources of funding and to enhance its international visibility. The rating process and the rating reports are done according to internationally recognised standards.
- Financial Rating: Financial Ratings are suitable for financially sustainable and large microfinance institutions. The aim is to receive an expert opinion on their medium-term viability and creditworthiness, through an analysis of the institution’s risks and performance. A rating report gives the institution a final rating grade and an appraisal of its ability to absorb new funds.
- Social Rating: Institutions can also request a social rating, which provides an expert opinion on their social performance management and capacity to put their mission into practice to achieve social goals, such as improving the social welfare of the country in which they operate. Social Rating reports serve to attract funders and investors with social goals.
The Code evaluation serves to verify that a given microfinance institution complies with the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision.
The Code evaluation assesses whether an institution complies correctly with the Code. For non-bank microfinance institutions, going through the Code evaluation and obtaining an award of compliance is an obligatory requirement to access funding offered under EaSI.
The conclusions of each evaluation will be summarised in an evaluation report for the respective microfinance institution and will include all findings and recommendations.
The Code certification is based on a detailed Code Evaluation Report and subject to a positive decision by the Code Steering Group, which consists of experts from the European Commission and other relevant actors. The certificate of compliance is valid for 3 years.
Trainings on the Code
Trainings on the Code aim to assist non-bank microfinance institutions that have signed-up to the Code and wish to comply with it.
Through the trainings on the Code, our service providers will
- review the self-assessment of the institution
- make sure that all clauses, as well as their applicability to the specific organisation are well understood by the institution
- propose steps to remedy the weaknesses and lack of compliance in view of the readiness for external assessment
- give recommendations for improvements in the longer term
Trainings on the Code have a hands-on format such as coaching, even though classroom seminars or a combination of both formats are also possible. The trainings have a duration of up to 3 days.
Post-evaluation consultancy on the Code
The post-evaluation consultancy aims at assisting microfinance institutions that have failed to obtain the Code certification and are committed to taking the steps needed to improve their level of compliance. Post-evaluation consultancy may be also provided to those microfinance institutions that have been certified as Code compliant but wish to work towards a higher global marking.
The Helpdesk is a free-of-charge service developed by the European Commission and accessible at all times via the EaSI MicPro platform. The tool provides information on microfinance and social enterprise finance in Europe.
Through the Helpdesk, users – e.g. microfinance institutions, investors, microcredit clients – can ask questions in all EU languages concerning the EaSI financial instruments, EaSI Technical Assistance, European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision and other EU microfinance related topics.
To submit a question, users should fill out the Helpdesk form available on the EaSI MicPro platform. Once submitted, every question is processed by an expert team and an answer is sent usually within one week from submission.
Frequently asked questions
Here you will find a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions with regard to the EaSI Technical Assistance services, the related eligibility criteria and application process, the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision and the EaSI Financial Instruments and grants. If you do not find an answer to your question, please contact the Helpdesk.