What we do
The EIF designs financial instruments that absorb some of the risk that banks, guarantee institutions, microfinance lenders and funds take when they finance small businesses. This encourages banks to lend, funds to invest and private investment to crowd in, to create a sustainable financing ecosystem for Europe’s SMEs.
We believe in small – Europe’s small businesses. This means working with other partners to deploy capital in areas that need it, from innovative businesses to farmers. It means identifying underserved areas, whether that be geographical or simply structural, like early-stage businesses. It means knowing our markets so well that one comparatively small commitment in a carefully selected bank or fund can generate millions of extra euros to small businesses.
The EIF works with many stakeholders - Member States, the European Commission (EC), a giant network of banks, including national promotional institutions (NPIs), funds and our parent, the EIB. Resources invested by the EIF come from our shareholders: the EIB and the EU, national and regional institutions, other public bodies, private capital and the EIF’s own funds.
What have we been doing in 2020?
2020 has been a year like no other. The pandemic has brought about unprecedented levels of uncertainty, insecurity and isolation, as well as difficulties for millions of small businesses across the EU.
In response, the EIF has launched a series of new initiatives and adapted existing ones in order to generate as much support as possible in the form of better access to finance for European SMEs and mid-caps. These COVID-19 response measures have come over and above the normal course of business that has continued unabated. As a result, together with our partners, we have deployed 26% more funds compared to 2019, and generated financing opportunities for more than 370,000 SMEs.
• We have been taking concrete steps in adjusting our working methods and financing flows to adapt to the EIB Group’s new Climate Bank Roadmap, as climate action and environmental sustainability take centre stage in our policy objectives. In parallel, we have also been supporting European businesses in their digital transformation, with a dedicated instrument.
• Wrapping up EFSI, the EU’s ambitious financing initiative under the Investment Plan for Europe, through which the EIF deployed EUR 10.7bn to mobilise EUR 232bn for almost 1.5 million SMEs and entrepreneurs across the continent. EFSI has also been instrumental in developing various different financial instruments, ranging from capped and uncapped guarantees, to venture capital and private equity, securitisation and private credit.
• Branching out to new frontiers, we saw a number of promising new initiatives take shape during 2020. We have broadened our horizons, both by looking to the sky with our InnovFin Space pilot programme, as well as looking to our oceans with initiatives like Blue Invest and Portugal Blue. We have also been looking at scale-up financing and focussed on other critical areas like healthcare and life sciences.
• Our focus on human capital has been growing as well, as we launched, with the EC, a new pilot initiative focusing on skills and education, expanded our equity support for social impact, and used resources from the EaSI programme to reach out to ever-smaller microfinance institutions.
• Public resources have been travelling further, as reflows from financial instruments in Bulgaria, Romania and Greece have been re-invested in new instruments, ensuring that each recycled euro of public financing generates a new round of financing opportunities for European SMEs.
• We've had a record year for securitisation, deploying a total of just under EUR 4bn - a figure double that of previous years – contributing to revitalising the securitisation market, opening new geographies and ultimately generating up to EUR 9.3bn worth of new loans for European SMEs.