More than EUR 1 billion has been mobilised to support over 100,000 micro-entrepreneurs in 23 EU member states under the Progress Microfinance and the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programmes.
Target borrowers of this cooperation between the European Investment Fund (EIF), the European Commission, and microfinance providers include
- unemployed micro-entrepreneurs,
- young self-employed,
- minority groups,
- rural communities
where microfinance can help with work-integration, health care, social housing and education.
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: ”We believe that, by improving access to finance and empowering people to use their skills and talents, microfinance opens up opportunities that have huge potential in terms of job creation, as it gives entrepreneurs the springboard they need to start and develop a business."
About EU Microfinance Support
The European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance) was launched in 2010 to increase the availability of microcredit – loans below EUR 25 000 – for setting up or developing a small business. The EU's support to microfinance is now being implemented through the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
About the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI)
The European Commission's Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI") aims at supporting the EU's objective of high level employment, adequate social protection, fighting against social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund.
It provides support to financial intermediaries that offer microloans to entrepreneurs or finance to social enterprises. The objective is to increase access to microfinance for vulnerable groups who want to set up or develop their business and micro-enterprises, through notably loans of up to EUR 25 000.
In addition, for the first time, the European Commission is helping social enterprises through investments of up to EUR 500 000. The microfinance and social entrepreneurship support is currently being implemented through the EaSI Guarantee, which enables financial intermediaries to reach out to micro-entrepreneurs and social enterprises that would not have been able to gain finance otherwise due to risk considerations.
About the European Investment Fund (EIF)
The European Investment Fund's 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.