May 18, 2017 - 15:43 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), a microfinance fund with nearly EUR 1 billion in assets under management, is meeting in Split, Croatia on 17-18 May to emphasise its support for entrepreneurs and its unwavering funding of small business in the regions it serves.
The motto of this year’s meeting highlights the areas receiving increased EFSE focus: Enabling Financial inclusion, Startups and Entrepreneurship. These areas are a natural extension of the fund’s focus on small businesses, job creation, and economic growth.
This year’s meeting provides a unique forum for high-level discussions about the current challenges facing both the financial industry and entrepreneurs. Guests at the meeting include numerous central bank governors, leading banking and microfinance industry executives, and top managers from national and international development organisations. Topics at the meeting – presented by sector experts – range from how fintech solutions can help micro and small enterprises (MSEs), to methods for strengthening the startup environment.
EFSE Board Chairman Christoph Tiskens said: “Our fund has served a vital role in improving lives in the regions we serve. EFSE financing for MSEs and low-income households promotes local and regional prosperity by supporting those seeking to expand their business or workforce, or improve their living conditions. Our renewed focus on new businesses also bolsters both job creation and economic development in the fund’s markets.”
The fund and its Development Facility have shown their dedication to new businesses by organising and sponsoring a range of events to support entrepreneurs over the past year. In November, the facility even hosted its first competition for new fintech companies: The inaugural Fincluders Startup Challenge attracted nearly 100 entrants with products for spreading financial inclusion and culminated with 15 finalists pitching their ideas to industry experts in the German capital Berlin.
As the funding catalyst for 860,000 small business and housing loans with a value of EUR 5.9 billion, since its inception the EFSE has directly contributed to improving access to finance for hundreds of thousands of MSEs and low-income households in 16 markets in Southeast Europe and the European Eastern Neighbourhood Region. Since it was created in 2005, the fund has provided loans to nearly 100 partner lending institutions in the regions it serves; on 31 December 2016, the EFSE’s outstanding portfolio invested in target countries amounted to EUR 924.3 million, which is currently on-lent to finance more than 160,000 sub-loans with a total volume of EUR 1 billion.