The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Swedbank have signed a microfinance agreement to provide €123 million in support for micro-businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
Thanks to the financial backing of the European Commission, the EIF is providing a guarantee that will enable Swedbank Baltic to provide up to €123 million in financing to microbusinesses in the three Baltic countries over the next three years.
The deal also benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core element of the Investment Plan for Europe.
With the help of EU funding, Swedbank is facilitating access to funding for microenterprsies and the unemployed in the Baltics, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said in a press release.
"This will benefit around 5,000 small businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania," Thyssen said. "This financial support demonstrates again that the European Commission is fully committed to boosting employment in Europe and getting more people into jobs, especially the most vulnerable people on the labor market."
Financing by Swedbank under EaSI support for microenterprises is expected to launch this month.
"We are delighted to be announcing a new EaSI guarantee agreement with Swedbank, which is crucial for the continuation of support to microentrepreneurs across the Baltics," said Per-Erik Eriksson, head of Microfinance at EIF. "The guarantee from EIF will be instrumental in helping small businesses who may be having difficulties in accessing much needed finance for their business."
The EaSI aims to support the EU objective of high level employment, adequate social protection, fighting against social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions. The EaSI guarantee scheme 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 establish or develop their business and micro-enterprises, notably through loans of up to €25,000. In addition, for the first time, the European Commission is helping social enterprises by means of investments of up to €500,000.
The EIF is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them access finance.
Editor: Aili Vahtla