Microfinance instruments can be useful for supporting microenterprises, unemployed workers, and citizens suffering from disadvantages. By helping to improve access to more affordable finance, these instruments remain particularly useful for supporting self-employment, business start-ups, integration and employment of vulnerable groups, as well as other social policies.
Such microfinance instruments can make a real difference to EU citizens by promoting financial and social inclusion. Thus in this 2014-2020 programming period there are new opportunities for microfinance and these include actions being co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). Microfinance is also applicable for community-led approaches to local development in rural, urban, and coastal areas through other European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
Our new fi-compass factsheet about microfinance provides a useful starting point for helping ESIF, and particularly ESF stakeholders to better understand the full scope of microfinance instruments. Its content includes (among other things) information explaining: the rationale for using microfinance instruments; roles for microfinance providers; combining support from different funds or instruments and importance of business development services; in addition to advice concerning the promotion and implementation of these financial products.
A wide range of advice related to microfinance topics was also provided last week during our high-profile fi-compass Microfinance Workshop. This helped to raise new levels of awareness about ESF microfinance instruments through presentations by the European Commission, European Investment Bank, European Investment Fund, the major European microfinance networks, microfinance market practitioners, and a collection of Member State case studies.
All the presentations and video recordings from the Microfinance Workshop are available on the fi-compass website and a more detailed review of last week’s flagship fi-compass ESF events will be published in our next edition of the Beacon newsletter.