Our Impact
and Looking Ahead

We have done what we set out to do at the beginning of 2018, which was to respond to increased demand for SME financing in Europe. This meant delivering under our existing mandates, identifying new market gaps for SME financing and smartly blending pan-European and regional resources to make what we invest go further, efficiently.
Looking to the future, we are preparing to deploy new resources under EFSI 2, and engaging with the next programming period, the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), via InvestEU.
Our impact is important to us. Our research team at the EIF conducts studies based on state-of-the-art quantitative methods and academic collaboration to understand how our support helps SMEs to thrive. Crucially, we are also looking at how SMEs would perform without our intervention – and the results speak for themselves: On average, SMEs benefitting from loans guaranteed by the EIF grew more in terms of sales, assets and employees compared to their ‘twins.’

Our Impact

How have we made an impact on SMEs?

Well, according to our research, SMEs in Europe are more and more confident in applying for loans, while conditions for equity financing have improved in most countries. Not only is access to financing improved, we have found that small businesses benefitting from EU-guaranteed loans grow more than comparable firms without an EU-guaranteed loan.

Our impact goes beyond availability of financing. According to the venture capital fund managers we work with, the EIF’s support and direction has been crucial for helping first-time teams get off the ground. Thanks in part to our dedicated microfinance support, there are now over one million micro borrowers in Europe taking their first steps to growing a successful small business. Don’t just take our word for it, however. Download our reports to find out more.

We have a catalytic effect in venture capital

Fund managers surveyed by the EIF are adamant that we reduce the financing gap in the market by encouraging LPs (Limited Partners) to invest in VC funds. In fact, the less developed the ecosystem, the stronger the impact. The South and CESEE regions of Europe report the most perceived impact, and fund managers surveyed by the EIF find that they were able to increase the number of European SMEs in which they invested as well as the amount per SME. Our EIF VC Survey 2018 - Fund managers’ perception of EIF’s Value Added report tells you more.

Significant growth when compared with twin businesses*

On average, SMEs benefitting from loans guaranteed by the EIF grew more in terms of sales, assets and employees compared to their ‘twins’ (comparable firms that did not receive EU-guaranteed loans).

*companies that did not receive an EU guarantee

More Employment

More Total Assets

More Sales

Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe.

Nordic countries
Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

1 Measured with cost of employees (incl. pensions).

2 Measured with nr. employees.

3 Two years after treatment.

Effects of loan guarantees on firms three years after the receipt of the loan. The types of targeted firms, sample sizes, and confidence intervals of results, vary from country to country. These differences in firm types and statistical reliability imply certain limitations to the cross-country comparability of results.For further information, please consult the individual reports.


The Economic Impact of EU Guarantees on Credit to SMEs. Evidence from CESEE countries.

The effects of EU-funded guarantee instruments on the performance of Small and Medium Enterprises: Evidence from France.

Econometric study on the impact of EU loan guarantee financial instruments on growth and jobs of SMEs.


SMEs in Europe have gained financing thanks to EIF support.

Our work goes beyond fundraising…

European venture capital managers find that the EIF is a reliable investor to have on board. The EIF’s commitment signals the quality of the fund to private investors, often allowing venture capital funds to raise several fund generations.

In 60% of cases, the EIF is involved in a successor fund. For more information, please see the EIF VC Survey 2018 - Fund managers’ perception of EIF’s Value Added report.

Impact in micro borrowing

There are now almost one million micro borrowers in Europe, offering not just financial support to small businesses, but a crucial source of mentoring and coaching. The EIF has supported this important source of SME financing since the year 2000, through guaranteeing loan portfolios. Its presence in the market as a stable investor encourages new investors and the growth of new microfinance institutions. Women are the most frequently targeted group for loans: 100 out of 155 microfinance intermediaries in Europe as a whole – and not just those supported by the EIF - expressed a focus on women, according to a report sponsored by the EIF: the European Microfinance Network’s ‘Microfinance in Europe: Survey Report 2016-2017’. This target group is followed by rural populations, which is targeted by 71 of the surveyed MFIs. Immigrants and disabled people are the least targeted groups with 15 and six MFIs respectively, followed by ethnic minorities with 19 MFIs targeting these clients. Read more in the European Small Business Finance Outlook, December 2018 paper.

Conditions for accessing finance in Europe have improved

The UK, Finland, Germany, Austria and Poland small businesses enjoyed the best external financing conditions in Europe in 2017, according to the European Investment Fund’s ESAF (EIF SME Access to Finance) index ranking. On a macro level, conditions for equity financing improved for most countries in 2017. Credit and leasing activity fell the most. Loans, however, had the highest year-on-year variation. In most of Europe, small businesses are becoming more confident in applying for loans.

A look back…

The European venture capital market is now mature enough for us to analyse the characteristics of successful and unsuccessful venture capital-backed companies between 2007 and 2015. This cluster analysis reveals some interesting facts – for example, did you know that green technologies, based on patent metrics, was the least innovative sector backed by venture capital from 2007-2015? Or that all venture capital-backed companies, four years after receiving the VC investment, grew their number of employees by an average of 20%? You can read more in our forthcoming study, jointly produced with Invest Europe, the European Private Equity & Venture Capital Association.


EIF SME Access to Finance Index - June 2018 update.

For a full list of our market-leading research and working papers, please visit:

Looking Ahead

We live in changing times, and the ways in which SMEs access financing will evolve in new and innovative ways. Already, SMEs are able to raise funds and access loans through Fintech platforms and crowdfunding, but as digital technology accelerates, other means of raising capital will emerge. Our role is to continue to identify ways to support SME financing, both through assuming some of the risk, but also through our positive signalling effect.

Looking forward, our resources
will change as the second phase
of the Investment Plan for
Europe takes shape, and the InvestEU Fund provides a framework to explore new policy areas. Ensuring a diverse range of funding sources is crucial to sustaining access to finance for SMEs, and we look forward to maximising the ways we can support Europe’s small businesses.

Stabilising investment volumes

We expect signature volumes to stabilise over the coming years as EFSI 2 is fully deployed. Our focus will turn to new areas that still need support such as debt funds, agriculture, deploying EFSI 2 capital in these new areas, and providing ongoing support to our existing mandates.

Delivering the Investment Plan for Europe

The second phase of EFSI (EFSI 2) will be delivered through top-ups of existing EU and EFSI programmes, as well as by the introduction of new products and pilots. One key strategic area where we wish to scale up our support is equity financing, which helps later-stage companies in Europe to grow.

Ensuring our AAA status

The EIF’s AAA status is crucial in taking risk-adjusted investments in the SME market as well as in sending a signal to private investors to ‘crowd in’. We therefore prioritise capital optimisation measures to maintain this rating and make use of our sustainable resource base.

Diversifying fund sources

We will continue to diversify funding sources by investing institutional investor capital in European small businesses through our AMUF vehicle. We are particularly interested in targeting sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors outside of Europe, European insurance companies and pension funds that do not have the infrastructure to access this asset class directly, banks, corporates and other investment institutions and family offices.

Supporting Fintech

The ways that SMEs access finance today will be very different tomorrow. We actively support new virtual marketplaces, for example, through guarantees to support online lending platforms. In addition to this, we believe Fintech is incredibly valuable to the real economy, but it can suffer from funding gaps like any other market. We are exploring ways to support this changing world.

Cooperating with NPIs

The EIF will maintain its strong level of cooperation with shareholders and intensify its relationship with NPIs, leveraging on the platforms launched for private equity and securitisation activities and exploring new opportunities, such as debt funds. This should translate into an increased number of transactions with NPIs, as well as continued exchanges on best market practice and the discussion of concrete mandate opportunities with shareholders and NPIs generally.

What is the post-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework?

The European Union works on budget cycles called Multi-Annual Financial Frameworks (MFFs). The current seven-year cycle runs from 2014 to 2020, meaning that discussions on the structure of the MFF beginning 2021 started in earnest in 2018. The MFF governs not only the funds available to us, but also the programmes that we deploy, which means that we want to participate actively in the discussions on MFF to provide key input relevant to the shaping of new instruments encouraging SME financing.

Share this page on social media: