The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Almi Företagspartner (Almi) and Svensk Exportkredit (SEK), have signed guarantee agreements to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps in Sweden. Two of the transactions benefit from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.
The agreements allow Almi and Svensk Exportkredit to provide around SEK 2.1 billion (around EUR 210 million) of loans to innovative companies in Sweden over the next 2 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.
In addition, a new microfinance agreement will allow Almi to provide a total of SEK 600 million (around EUR 60 million) to around 4,500 sole-traders and micro-businesses, benefiting from loans at a reduced interest rate, without providing collateral under the EU supported programme. The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a loan under EaSI can directly contact Almi branches in Sweden.
Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: "Today's agreements with Almi and Svensk Exportkredit are a real opportunity for 4,500 micro-entrepreneurs and other innovative companies in Sweden to benefit from low interest loans and create their own jobs. With the Investment Plan for Europe, the European Commission is fully committed to boosting employment in Europe, helping the creation of jobs and paving the way out of social and financial exclusion."
EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert commented: “EUR 300 million provides substantial support for Swedish businesses - from micro-enterprises to innovative small mid-caps. We are pleased to be signing an agreement with our new financial intermediary SEK and to be further developing our relationship with our trusted partners Almi. Almi’s combination of tailored micro-lending products and business advisory services, plus SEK’s export expertise will help future entrepreneurs in Sweden to benefit from this EU support”.
Göran Lundwall, Chief Executive of ALMI “Sweden is at the frontline regarding new innovative startups. This agreement will allow us to provide enhanced access to financing for startups with growth potential”.
SEK’s CEO Catrin Fransson said: “A year ago, we introduced a business area dedicated to medium-sized companies. This has enabled us to build closer relationships with these companies and become better able to understand their needs; it also allows us to develop our own offering. The EIF guarantee is one example of how we can develop our offering”.
The Innovfin deals reflects the EIB Group’s commitment to respond swiftly to calls from Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament for a rapid launch of concrete initiatives under EFSI, accelerating lending and guaranteeing transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU.