The European Investment Fund (EIF), within the European Investment Bank Group, signed a loan transaction worth EUR10 million with Opportunity Bank a.d. Novi Sad (OBS) that will offer financing for around 4,000 micro enterprises from Serbia, particularly in rural areas. The bank will distribute the loans under terms more favorable than existing commercial loans within EaSI, the financial instrument used by the European Union to support employment and social innovation. This is the first transaction ever to be signed within the said financial instrument; out of 34 countries that can access EaSI, the first transaction is taking place in Serbia.
The transaction line at Opportunity bank a.d. Novi Sad will be available to micro and small enterprises, the self-employed, and entrepreneurs from rural areas, as well as to agricultural households and small rural holdings. Clients of the bank will be offered free trainings to help them improve their managerial skills via entrepreneur platform https://samsvojgazda.rs/.
Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI) strives toward EU goals of achieving high quality employment, appropriate social protection, fight against social inclusion and poverty, and improved working conditions. The EaSI axis entitled Microfinancing and Social Entrepreneurship consists of a variety of financial instruments funded by the European Union and managed by the European Investment Fund.
The EaSI programme aims to support financial intermediaries that offer microloans to entrepreneurs or finance to social enterprises. The objective is to increase access to microfinance for vulnerable groups who want to set up or develop their business and micro enterprises, through loans of up to EUR25,000.
EIF’s managing director Alain Godard said: “This EaSI-funded transaction will enable the EIF and OBS to support more vulnerable entrepreneurs, including micro-farmers, across Serbia. This will contribute to the development of the microfinance sector in the country, strengthening its competitiveness and sustaining jobs, and thereby helping to improve the quality of life of local communities of small entrepreneurs.”
Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights pointed out: “I am delighted to announce this very first loan transaction under our new EaSI Funded Instrument, which makes Serbia the first country to benefit from the programme, helping the local economy. In these challenging times, the EU remains committed to supporting access to microfinance, which can help boost jobs, equal opportunities and inclusion – also at the local level – as part of the recovery efforts in the Western Balkans.”
Vladimir Vukotić, OBS CEO noted: “Supporting micro-entrepreneurs and small farmers has always been a priority for Opportunity Bank, since our mission is to enhance employment and development of rural communities through providing access to finance to the underbanked. Presently, this strategy seems to be of even greater importance given that the economic crisis has slowed-down business activity and resulted in micro businesses and farmers facing even bigger challenges of keeping their operations alive.”
|European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its main task is to facilitate access to financing for micro, small, and medium-sized business in Europe. EIF designs and develops personal venture and growth capital, guarantees, and microfinancing instruments specifically aimed at this segment of the market. In this role, the EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.
European Investment Bank (EIB) is the bank of the European Union. It is the long-term institution of the EU and it is the only bank owned by and representing the interests of EU Member States and is tasked with guarding their interests. It makes long-term financing available for sound investment and thus contributes to furthering EU policy goals. The EIB works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy.