According to an announcement by the European Commission, the European Investment Fund (EIF), which is part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) group, will provide 150 million euros to very small, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Greece, following a deal signed with three Greek intermediary banks and funds.
The first agreement, signed with the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa, is backed by the EU’s Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme and will cover a loan portfolio of five million euros for 300 micro-borrowers aiming at covering the needs mainly of farmers, young unemployed borrowers, cooperatives and social enterprises, as well as micro businesses active in the green economy. The second agreement is backed by the EU’s COSME programme, and consists of a 20-million-euro agreement with the Greek investment fund Diorama Investments – whose capital is management by Deca Investments – that is expected to trigger investments of more than 125 million euros for SMEs.
At the press conference in Athens covering the signature of the first two agreements, European Commissioner for employment Marianne Thyssen, Deputy Economy and Development Minister for NSRF Alexis Charitsis, EIF Chief Executive Pier Luigi Gilibert and executives of Diorama and the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa presented the programmes, which are part-funded by the European Commission. Thyssen noted that freeing investments in the Greek economy was vital for creating jobs and noted that the European Commission remains fully committed to creating growth without exclusions in Europe. Charitsis also highlighted the timing of the agreements, which were announced on the day after the Eurogroup’s decisions on Greece and the review of the Greek programme, including the start of a discussion on making Greece’s debt sustainable. He said the agreements coincided to a great degree with the Greek government’s initiatives for addressing problems such as the deleveraging and shrinking of bank balance sheets.
The third agreement is an InnovFin deal with the ProCredit group, which is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. Under the agreement, the ProCredit group will provide EUR 20 million of loans to innovative SMEs in Greece over the next two years. The loans will be supported by an EIF guarantee under the “EU InnovFin finance for Innovators” initiative with financial backing from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The agreement signed will make it possible for the ProCredit group to offer innovative companies additional financing at favourable conditions.
Speaking at the signing event, European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: “I am honoured to be here in Thessaloniki to witness the signing of the first EFSI deal in Greece. Small companies in Greece are in great need of financing to grow their businesses and create jobs. The agreement signed today by the EIF and ProCredit with the support of the Investment Plan will help Greek SMEs access new finance. I encourage other banks to join forces with the EIF and set up similar agreements under the Investment Plan so that we can help more Greek companies flourish.”