Monday, 4 March, 2019
Article published by the European Commission
The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Credal and Hefboom (both members of FEBEA) have signed two social entrepreneurship guarantee agreements in Belgium.
These new financing agreements were made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Investment Plan for Europe. They were also supported by the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
This new guarantee agreements allow Credal and Hefboom to provide loans to 530 start-up and developing social enterprises across Belgium over the next 5 years. Social-entrepreneurs will be able to benefit from loans exempted from collateral requirements under the EU supported programme. Credal and Hefboom will primarily target start-ups and companies that have suffered during the financial crisis.
European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "With social entrepreneurship, Belgium will boost its economic growth while supporting its most vulnerable citizens. Today’s agreements will bring much needed resources to 530 social entrepreneurs in Belgium. With the Juncker Plan, we continue to support social cohesion in Europe."
EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert, said: “These new EaSI guarantees enable Credal and Hefboom boost their lending to social-enterprises, who often struggle to access finance from traditional lenders. Credal and Hefboom are members of FEBEA – the European Federation of Ethical Banks – and we hope that these transactions help sign more such deals throughout Europe via this network.”
Credal President, Isabelle Philippe, said: “When we first started getting requests for finance from Social Enterprises, it was a bit of a revolution at Credal. Traditionally our activity was based on lending to Not-for-profits. And then we had to create a specific loan for them « Impact Plus ». And to our surprise, many of these new enterprises were certainly profit oriented, but preferred a Social Financier like us to a Bank, because we shared many common values. This activity has been growing since and now thanks to the EaSI Guarantee we hope to finance many more Social Enterprises in Belgium.”
Hefboom President, Antoon Vandevelde, said: “The EaSI Guarantee enables Hefboom to fund even more innovative, social and durable projects. These often young initiatives or social-enterprises, focus on generating social impact, rather than building up financial assets. So those projects are riskier, and less attractive for regular financiers. So with the EaSI Guarantee Hefboom can help realise dreams.”
The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. Social-enterprises wishing to apply for a loan under EaSI, can contact Credal and Hefboom branches.
EIF will not provide direct financial support to enterprises but will implement the facility through local financial intermediaries, such as microfinance, social finance and guarantee institutions, as well as banks active across the EU-28 and additional countries that are participating in the EaSI programme. These intermediaries will deal with interested parties directly to provide support under the EaSI Guarantee.
Investment Plan for Europe
The Investment Plan for Europe, known as the “Juncker Plan”, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investment to generate jobs and growth by making smarter use of new and existing financial resources, removing obstacles to investment, and providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects.
The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the main pillar of the Juncker Plan and provides first loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more projects that often come with greater risks. EFSI has already yielded tangible results. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI are expected to mobilise almost €380 billion in investments, including €8.4 billion in Belgium, and support 842 000 SMEs in the 28 Member States.
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