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First European microfinance institution certified under the European Code of Good Conduct

Europe's first microcredit provider (MCP) to receive certification for compliance with the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision (referred to as 'the Code') is the Dutch firm Qredits. Qredits was founded as a non-profit organisation in 2009 to assist the social and financial inclusion of micro-entrepreneurs in the Netherlands.

Elwin Groenevelt, the General Director of Qredits welcomed this certification saying: “Qredits is proud to be the first European microfinance institution to receive the certificate for compliance with the Code. From the outset in 2009 it has been our goal to build a reputable and sustainable microfinance organisation filling the market gap left by the changes in traditional lending. In order for microfinance to become a trusted financial alterative in today’s developed markets we were eager to participate in designing the Code and thus creating a performance standard for this sector."

MCPs are required to sign up to the Code as a pre-condition for benefitting from the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) - such as EaSI Microfinance Guarantee, EaSI Technical Assistance or EaSI Capacity Building. Referring to the Code's relevance for MCPs, Mr Groenevelt said: "We encourage other microcredit providers to implement the Code of Good Conduct in order to bring the alternative financing sector to a higher level professionally and for our joint interests to be represented well at a European level. We are grateful also for the guarantees and programmes made available through the European Commission in support of this sector and feel it is only fair to have to meet the requirements of the Code in order to continue benefitting from these programmes."

"Over the past three years we focused on incorporating the requirements set forth in the priority clauses of the Code in the areas of customer and investor relations, governance, risk management, reporting and information systems. Receiving this certificate of compliance with the Code shows how much we have achieved over the past eight years and underlines the fact that Qredits is a best practice example in the European microfinance market. This certification also ensures our continued eligibility for EaSI guarantees and instruments available through the European Commission.”

About EaSI TA

EaSI TA is the primary source of capacity building support for MCPs operating in EU Member States and other eligible European countries. It offers a suite of professional services including institutional assessment or rating of the MCP, consulting services to strengthen institutional capacity and eliminate operational weaknesses, and support for the implementation of the Code. In addition, EaSI TA organises and implements tailored events to spread good practice in the wider European microcredit sector, as well as a dedicated Helpdesk.

The results to date were very successful for EaSI TA with multiple milestones, which are testimony to the efforts of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to increase access to finance for vulnerable groups and micro-enterprises in Europe.

Some of the key accomplishments of the programme to date are listed below:

  • Since the beginning of the project in mid-2015, 33 MCPs from 12 countries have been selected and are receiving institutional assessment or rating, as well as tailored trainings to increase the quality of their internal processes. The beneficiaries come from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK.
  • 39 MCPs receive technical assistance to implement the Code’s best-practice guidelines covering Governance, Strategic Planning, Risk Management, Management Information Systems (MIS) and Reporting for the European Microfinance Industry. The implementation of the Code is also a requirement for Microfinance Institutions to access the EaSI Guarantees and other EU funding.
  • Since the start of the Programme, 35 EaSI TA workshops and seminars have been organised in Albania, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovak Republic and the UK. Event co-organisers are local microfinance associations, the European Parliament and Universities and the overall audience reached more than 1 000 practitioners.

If your institution is a MCP (greenfield microfinance institution, non-bank microcredit provider, guarantee granting institution or a licensed bank) operating in one of the 28 EU Member States, Albania, FYROM, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia or Turkey, you can apply as soon as possible for the 2nd EaSI TA Call, no later than May 19th, 2017. All relevant information including a template for expression of interest can be downloaded here. For more information about the application process, do not hesitate to contact easi.ta@fi-compass.eu

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