First Employment and Social Innovation microfinance deal in Albania to benefit 5,000 micro-enterprises

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Fondi Besa (BESA) have signed the first guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Albania under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

This new EaSI guarantee agreement with the non-bank microfinance institution BESA, will cover a loan portfolio of ALL 3 billion (c. €22 million) for micro-borrowers, targeting in particular the agribusiness sector and youth entrepreneurial activity. More than 5,000 micro-borrowers with limited access to finance are expected to benefit from this transaction.

Marianne Thyssen,Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “Thanks to EU funding, €22 million in loans at lower interest rates will be offered to young entrepreneurs and microenterprises in the agribusiness sector in Albania. Agriculture is a vital sector of Albania’s economy and provides employment for almost 50% of the population in rural areas. Through its EaSI programme, the European Commission confirms its commitment to reinforce local economies, give a boost to growth and jobs and help the most vulnerable people on the labour market.”

EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “I am pleased that we are signing our first EaSI microfinance agreement in Albania which will help to provide finance to over 5,000 micro-entrepreneurs in the country. BESA’s micro-finance loans and mentoring services will provide micro-borrowers with valuable tools for success. Signing at the Microfinance Centre’s annual conference in Tirana demonstrates to the microfinance market, the concrete results of what the EaSI programme aims to deliver across the continent.”

Prof. Assoc. Dr. Bajram Muçaj – CEO of Fondi Besa sh.a said: Contribution to strengthening SME sector in Albania stands high on Fondi Besa priorities and we are very happy to cooperate with European Investment Fund to extend the provision of access for loans to agribusiness sector and young entrepreneurs. We believe that EIF support will be an added value to our activity, producing more positive impact in social-economic life of our customers and of the country.

Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a micro-loan under EaSI in Albania can do so directly via Fondi BESA’s 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.

About the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation

The EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. Under EaSI, the European Commission supports microfinance and social entrepreneurship finance with an overall envelope of EUR 193 million for the period 2014-2020. The aim is to increase access to microfinance for vulnerable groups who want to set up or develop their business and micro-enterprises, through notably loans of up to EUR 25,000. In addition, for the first time, the European Commission is helping social enterprises through loans of up to EUR 500,000. The microfinance and social entrepreneurship support is currently being implemented through the EaSI Guarantee, which enables financial intermediaries to reach out to micro-entrepreneurs that would not have been able to gain finance otherwise due to risk considerations, and to social. The European Commission has selected EIF to implement the EaSI Guarantee.

About the European Investment Fund

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 to 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.

For further information on EU microfinance and social entrepreneurship support please refer to:

EaSI Programme

EU support to social entrepreneurship

About BESA

Established in 1994, Fondi Besa sh.a. is a leading non-bank microfinance institution in Albania. The mission of Fondi BESA is to help the economic growth and poverty reduction in urban and semi-urban areas of Albania by promoting micro, small and medium enterprise sector through the creation of a private micro-financial Albanian fund, which is self-sustainable. Clients of the Fund include people from all socio-economic layers, including unemployed and start-up businesses. Fondi BESA provides all kind of lending, including consumer and mortgage loans. Fondi Besa aims at providing financial products and services, which meet and exceed the expectations of its customers, seeking to be the first choice of customers in the SME segment in Albania and the most reliable for its target market.

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