The European Investment Fund (EIF) and ProCredit Group are providing an additional €800 million to innovative small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), bringing a total of €1.62 billion to companies in eleven countries.
The EIF-backed financing is now available through ProCredit banks in South Eastern and Eastern Europe and targets companies using new technologies and producing new products in one of the eleven countries where the facility is available (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Moldova, the Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine). To date, agreements with ProCredit have already supported around 2,000 innovative SMEs, predominantly in the sectors Manufacturing and Wholesale and Retail Trade, and many more will be financed in the coming years.
These agreements were signed under the European Commission’s InnovFin initiative, backed by the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. The InnovFin initiative enables participating banks to provide loans to innovative companies with the support of a guarantee provided by the EIF. The agreements signed in EU Member State countries were made possible by the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). The EFSI is the central pillar of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, also known as the “Juncker Plan”.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Two years after we announced €820 million for SMEs in eleven countries, the European Investment Fund and ProCredit are doubling their financial support, meaning €1.62 billion is now available in financing for small and medium sized companies across these countries. This continued and increased level of support from the EU will make a tangible difference to thousands of people with innovative business ideas in need of a financing, adding to the 2,000 SMEs that have already benefited from this scheme.”
EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “We are delighted that InnovFin SME guarantee agreements with the ProCredit banks are yielding such positive results. ProCredit’s well-established distribution network, combined with its SME lending expertise, ensures that EC-backed loans can be rapidly deployed across the eleven territories. These transactions will help companies to access this EU backed finance, in order to drive forward an innovation agenda across Europe.”
Dr. Claus-Peter Zeitinger, Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of ProCredit Holding added: “The extension of our agreement is an important signal for our group. It shows our clients that investments by innovative SMEs in South Eastern and Eastern Europe will continue to be supported by the EU and it also demonstrates that the developmental contribution made by ProCredit banks in their countries is being recognised by the EU”.
The European Investment Fund (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. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. More information on EIF’s work under EFSI is available here.
About the ProCredit group
ProCredit Holding AG & Co. KGaA, based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, is the parent company of the international ProCredit group, which consists of banks for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and whose operational focus is on South Eastern and Eastern Europe. In addition to this regional focus, the ProCredit group is also present in South America and Germany. The company’s shares are traded on the Prime Standard segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The anchor shareholders of ProCredit Holding AG & Co. KGaA include the strategic investors Zeitinger Invest and ProCredit Staff Invest (comprising the investment vehicles for ProCredit staff), the Dutch DOEN Participaties BV, KfW Development Bank and IFC (part of the World Bank Group). As the group’s superordinated company according to the German Banking Act, ProCredit Holding AG & Co. KGaA is supervised on a consolidated level by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, BaFin) and the German Bundesbank. More information can be found on the company’s website at www.procredit-holding.com.
About the Juncker Plan
The Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called “Juncker Plan”, is one of the European Commission’s top priorities. It focuses on boosting investments to create 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 central pillar of the Juncker Plan. It provides a first loss guarantee, allowing the EIB to invest in more, often riskier, projects. The projects and agreements approved for financing under the EFSI so far are expected to mobilise almost €410 billion in investments and support around 952,000 SMEs across all 28 Member States.
The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility is established under the “EU InnovFin Finance for Innovators” initiative developed under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for research and Innovation. It provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between EUR 25,000 and EUR 7.5 million in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small mid-caps (fewer than 500 employees). The facility is managed by EIF and is rolled out through financial intermediaries – banks and other financial institutions – in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Under this facility, financial intermediaries are guaranteed by the EU and EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered under the facility.