€1.2 billion of funding expected to reach businesses in the South of Italy under the SME initiative

After the signature of the funding agreement, the Italian SME Initiative programme kicks off today in Rome. This investment package is worth €200 million, with half from the national budget and half from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) resources. Thanks to the leverage effect and with additional resources from the European Investment Bank Group and the EU programme COSME, the Initiative will provide €1.2 billion of new loans for SMEs and start-ups in Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Small businesses provide the vast majority of job opportunities in the South of Italy. They deserve a helping hand. The launch of the SME initiative today is a strong signal of our commitment to support these businesses in their expansion, for the direct benefit of the real economy. It will lead to job creation in the region.”Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “The SME initiative launched today will give a boost to businesses in the South of Italy. It will give them access to funding, and will increase the competitiveness of the regional economy. It gives me the occasion to reiterate that I wish to see more countries join the initiative.” In the coming days, the European Investment Fund (EIF) will publish a call for expressions of interest to select eligible financial intermediaries (banks, guarantee institutions, leasing companies).