The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Erste Bank have signed a Social Entrepreneurship and a micro-finance guarantee agreement aimed at supporting more than 500 micro and social-enterprises in Austria under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). These agreements enable Erste Bank to provide a total of €10 million to over 500 micro and social entrepreneurs, many of whom face difficulties in accessing credit from traditional banking sources. Social entrepreneurs and micro-borrowers will be able to benefit from loans at a reduced interest rate, without providing collateral under the EU-supported programme. The EIF also signed a microfinance agreement with Erste Bank to benefit micro-enterprises. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “Thanks to EU funding and the support of the Austrian government, Erste Bank is opening a completely new credit line for social enterprises and will continue to provide microcredit and business services to 500 micro-entrepreneurs in Austria. The unemployed and people with a migrant background that are usually excluded from commercial bank funding will benefit from loans on preferential conditions, and be able to create their own jobs. By improving access to finance in the social sectors and for the most vulnerable people, the European Commission is showing its commitment to fight poverty and social exclusion in Europe through the creation of jobs.” The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund.
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