The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Erste Bank Serbia have signed a guarantee agreement today aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Serbia under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).The agreement will cover a loan portfolio of EUR 4.7 million for around 850 Serbian micro-borrowers, who will be able to benefit from loans on attractive terms, without having to provide additional guarantees. Applications for micro-loans will be possible as of 5 December this year.
- Educational, financial and mentoring support to start-ups and social enterprises in Serbia to be launched on 5 December
- Over the next five years EUR 4.7 million will be placed for around 800 Serbian start-ups and social enterprises; a guarantee agreement with EIF signed
- In 2017 and 2018 comprehensive support to civil society organisations and persons at risk of poverty to be introduced
- The CEE programme is aimed: to help create 5,000 new jobs in CEE, provide financing for 500 social enterprises and improve financial stability for 25,000 people at risk of poverty by 2019
This is the first step in the implementation of the “Step by Step“ Social Banking Programme in Serbia, launched by the Erste Group in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Austria aiming to support traditionally unbanked groups: start-ups, first-time entrepreneurs, social enterprises, civil society organisations and individuals at risk of poverty.
In its first phase in Serbia, the “Step by Step“ programme will support companies with a business history under 24 months in strengthening their businesses, social enterprises irrespective of their business operations’ duration, same as new business ideas characterised by sustainability and market potential, offering them access to basic financial products, sound money advice and ongoing busines mentoring. Services aimed at civil society organisations will be developed next year under this programme, while those focusing on individuals at risk of poverty are planned for 2018.
Speaking at the signature event in Belgrade, EIF Deputy Chief Executive, Roger Havenith, said: “I am delighted to see EIF collaborating so closely with Erste Bank Serbia to expand its activity under EaSI in Serbia. EIF is strongly committed to supporting disadvantaged social groups experiencing financial and social exclusion. Thanks to today’s agreement, I am confident that Erste Bank Serbia will be able to reach out to those Serbian micro-entrepreneurs whose risk profile would otherwise prevent them from accessing traditional bank financing.”
Commenting on the transaction, Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “The European Commission is fully committed to promoting inclusive entrepreneurship in the fight against social and financial exclusion. I therefore warmly welcome today’s agreement with Erste Bank, which marks the first of its kind in Serbia under the EaSI programme. This agreement worth EUR 4.7 million will support some 850 micro-entrepreneurs, particularly the most vulnerable ones, in starting up and developing their business. This will allow them to create jobs and inclusive growth at the grass-roots level.”
Slavko Carić, CEO of Erste Bank Serbia, stated: “The EU guarantee enables Erste Bank Serbia to fulfil its strategy of supporting the small enterprises, start-ups and social enterprises that will be strong drivers of future changes and the development of our country. The cooperation we have launched with the European Investment Fund will enable us to provide support to small businesses and entrepreneurs that have been operative less than two years and for whom the traditional forms of financing are generally inaccessible. Besides financing, we will also be providing them with education and mentoring support on their way to success. Erste Bank Serbia, together with its partners, contributes to building better community and well-being of all society.”