Over EUR 220 million for Finnish SMEs
The European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the European Investment Bank Group, has signed the first SME Initiative guarantee transactions in Finland with Ålandsbanken, OP Corporate Bank and Oma Savings Bank.
These agreements will improve access to finance for around 800 Finnish SMEs, including micro companies and start-ups, by ensuring that the banks committed to the SME Initiative offer financing at improved conditions, for example lower interest rates, longer maturities or lower collateral requirements.
The three guarantee transactions will generate a total of EUR 220 million of finance to SMEs in Finland, covering over half of the target EUR 400 million of total funding available under the initiative. These three transactions were signed only 4 months after the launch of the initiative in Finland.
Commenting on the transaction, EIB Vice-President, Jan Vapaavuori said: “The EIB Group is fully committed to rolling out the SME Initiative and we are pleased to be announcing, together with the Finnish government authorities, that the first commercial banks in Finland will now start providing finance for SMEs. These banks will be vital partners in providing support for entrepreneurs wishing to grow and develop their business. We are confident that these agreements will deliver lasting benefits to Finnish businesses.”
EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: “I am delighted that the first three SME Initiative guarantee agreements have been signed so rapidly in Finland. These transactions will generate more than EUR 220 million of SME financing over the coming years. The combination of European Structural and Investment funds national budget, EU Horizon 2020 and EIB Group resources allows EIF to provide risk-sharing and capital relief to financial intermediaries, which would improve lending conditions for the Finnish SMEs.”
Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä said: “SME Initiative guarantee instrument for SME’s diversifies financing from the Finnish Structural Funds Programme. Using instruments with high leverage effect compared with traditional direct grants adds overall impact of EU regional policy. A very valuable element in this kind of SME financing is the low level of administrational burden, especially at the level of final beneficiaries, the SME’s”.
Commenting on the signature, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "I am glad to see that the programme delivers so fast! SMEs are the engines of growth and job creation in Finland and the SME initiative gives them better access to the funding they need. More Member States should join the SME initiative and start using Cohesion Policy funds in new and creative ways."
The SME Initiative is a joint programme blending support from the European Commission, EIB Group and Republic of Finland with a view to stimulating SME financing by providing partial risk cover for SME loan portfolios originated by financial entities. Alongside Cohesion Policy funds (ERDF resources) and national budget contributed by Republic of Finland, the SME Initiative is co-funded through Horizon 2020 resources as well as benefitting from EIB Group resources. EUR 40 million are invested in the Finnish SME initiative programme, including EUR 20 million from the ERDF.
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.
The EIB is the EU’s long-term lending institution and is owned by the EU Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment, contributing to growth, jobs, regional convergence and climate action in Europe and beyond.
To maximise growth and job creation, the EIB targets four priority areas: innovation and skills, SMEs, climate action and strategic infrastructure across the EU.
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