Social impact, Skills & Human Capital

Europe’s greatest asset is its human capital. Investing in our people is absolutely paramount if we are to rise to the challenges we face collectively. This is why the EIF has been developing, in conjunction with our partners at the EC, instruments that target human capital.

This year we channelled resources in the direction of education, skilling and re-skilling as our workforce adapts to the changing world around us. We also continued to support the cultural and creative sectors that play such an important role in shaping the world we live in, and, of course, microfinance and social entrepreneurship, where business and the individual become one.

At the same time, the pandemic has raised the awareness of investors and asset owners keen on positive change. Even before the crisis, a growing number of private and institutional investors had made impact part of their core strategy and committed to generate positive and measurable social and environmental outcomes alongside financial return.

With the social impact VC market flourishing in Europe, we have witnessed a fourfold increase in investment proposals since 2015. Our social impact investments have continued to grow alongside the entire industry as more and more investors are sensitised and want to make money care more.

Making money care more

At the EIF, we have long been convinced of the benefits of social impact. One of our ambitions is to bring impact investing to the forefront of the venture capital and private equity industry.

In this vein, this year we committed up to €15m into Simpact 2.0, the first VC fund specifically targeting social enterprises with an environmental and social focus in Poland. It will target early-stage, tech-driven social enterprises tackling issues such as education, social integration, ageing, unemployment and healthcare. Simpact 2.0 will mostly invest in Poland, but also other CEE countries and the Baltics. Our commitment sends a positive message on the health of impact funds in Central and Eastern Europe and our continued support to a flourishing ecosystem across the whole continent.

We also backed initiatives that target major societal challenges and continued to deploy new investment forms such as social impact bonds. In France for instance, we invested €3.3m of EFSI resources in the Alternative à l’incarcération par le Logement et le Suivi intensif (AiLSi) programme sponsored by Médecins du Monde that offers homeless people with psychiatric disorders an alternative to jail in an effort to break the revolving cycle of “street-prison-hospital”. The programme will provide participants with accommodation, social and medical care, as well as legal support, all working towards rehabilitation.

AiLSi exemplifies the role of social outcome contracts, where investors frontload financing for a social intervention through innovative and preventive projects, while public budgets contribute only if the social impact targets defined in the contract are met. With this investment, the EIF has achieved the target of deploying at least €25m to Social Impact Bonds under EFSI, contributing to piloting this new form of investments across Europe.

This year we also committed €20m to Revent Ventures Fund that has a total size of €52.4m. Revent is a first-time impact fund providing additional resources to the very dynamic German impact ecosystem. The diverse management team has developed a differentiated impact investment strategy, tackling both social and climate-related challenges. The strategy focuses on backing software-enabled businesses set to generate attractive financial returns alongside measurable social or environmental impact, in a variety of sectors such as health and wellbeing, economic empowerment, sustainable behaviour and food.

In November and for the third year running we supported the Included VC initiative, an eight-month fellowship where aspiring venture capitalists from diverse and underrepresented communities get exclusive access to education and mentorship from the best VC talent.

Skills & Education Guarantee Pilot

2021 has been the year of consolidation of results for programmes falling under EFSI and the previous Multi-annual Financial Framework.

The EIF has been implementing the Skills & Education Guarantee (S&E) Pilot dedicated to stimulating investments in education, training and skills on behalf of the EC since 2020. The initiative was designed as part of the effort to get more people into jobs through training and re-skilling, responding to the European economy’s changing needs. Overall, 19 agreements with financial intermediaries have been signed so far, making this support available in 14 EU countries. During the first 12 months of implementation, close to 500 final beneficiaries have been supported while, overall, we are aiming to provide more than €382m of financing for the benefit of more than 19,000 students and 3,000 companies.

The first partnership established under the S&E programme was with Fundação José Neves (FJN) in Portugal, offering shared income agreements. Since the start of the implementation, FJN has already supported around 150 beneficiaries to the tune of around €1m.

A second guarantee agreement in Portugal was signed with Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), promoting investments of up to €25m in the education sector in Portugal. CGD will develop two loan products aimed at increasing its lending capacity to both Portuguese companies that invest in the upskilling of their employees and to organisations that offer education and training services.

In Latvia, we partnered with ALTUM to support students through a guarantee scheme with commercial banks in the country. In total, up to 13,500 students and learners in Latvia are expected to benefit from cheaper lending conditions to cover their study and housing costs. This is a continuation of a guarantee scheme that ALTUM launched with commercial banks in the country to support financing for students attending university. The programme was positively received by the market and the entire budget fully committed. With the support of the S&E Pilot, ALTUM will not only be able to support a larger number of students and learners, but also extend the programme to non-academic trainings for learners and tuition fees and living expenses for students studying abroad.

And in Romania, a guarantee agreement will allow FINS, a non-banking financial institution, to provide new loans in support of up to €5.5m education- and skills-related investments, for 300-350 students who wish to pursue higher education within the EU.

In parallel, in April, we signed a guarantee agreement with EIT Digital, Europe’s leading digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organisation, with a €2.5m guarantee which will allow more European students and learners to benefit from EIT Digital’s training programmes. This financing will allow the organisation to offer deferred payment schemes to course participants. It is expected that around 500 people can benefit from the scheme.

Support to skills and education is a key policy objective under InvestEU (Social Investment & Skills window) and the very positive outcomes achieved by the EIF through this pilot provide a solid basis for scaling up support to this area under InvestEU.

Mi Cuento


Barcelona, Spain

Financial Intermediary

Impact Partners

EIF financing

EFSI Sub-window 1; SIA

Financing purpose

product development

Number of employees


“Story-telling festivals are where you realise that stories are so much better when you personalise them... The kids join you on the journey… I’ve always wanted all kids to feature in these stories, and that’s kind of how we started doing what we do.”

Muriel Bourgeois


Employment & Social Innovation (EaSI)

EaSI has continued to be a vital resource for micro- and social enterprises during the year. Good progress was made in the implementation of the EaSI Funded Instrument in 2021: close to €84m have been committed through 12 transactions in eight countries (Romania, Montenegro, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Estonia, France). These transactions are expected to mobilise about €150m in support of approximately 10,000 final recipients. Throughout the year, there were three particularly notable transactions:

  • A €2m loan was allocated to Finora Capital to increase micro-lending in Estonia and Lithuania. Finora expects to serve more than 100 micro-enterprises in the two states with new, long-term lending under favourable conditions.
  • A €10m subordinated loan to Merkur Andelskasse, a Danish cooperative bank, allowed it to support hundreds of Danish social enterprises aiming to improve access to finance for vulnerable persons, micro-enterprises and social enterprises. In addition, an increased EGF guarantee to Merkur made an extra €20m available for Danish SMEs with more favourable lending conditions.
  • In December, a €10m loan under EaSI Funded Instrument was provided to SOCODEN, a French cooperative lender serving a special type of social enterprises, so-called SCOPs, that are owned and self-managed by their workers.

This year also marked the full utilisation of the EaSI Guarantees and EaSI Capacity Building instruments. By year end, EaSI guarantees were deployed across 30 countries, mobilising €2.8bn in financing for the benefit of more than 135,000 vulnerable borrower groups.

In particular a guarantee was signed with Ponture, a Swedish loan market place and lender for a portfolio of up to SEK 145m of small loans to Swedish micro-companies. With this EU support, Ponture can help around 1,000 small companies, focusing on businesses founded by women, young starters and people with migratory backgrounds. Moreover, migrants will benefit from various business development services (mentoring, training, coaching) offered by Ponture with support in the form of grants provided by the EU under the Business Development Support (BDS) Pilot for all EaSI loans granted to migrants.

The EaSI Capacity Building investments have totalled over €40m deployed in 11 countries supporting micro-lenders, ethical bank lenders and social lending platforms investing mainly in new IT infrastructure & digitalisation tools.

Cultural & Creative Sectors

The cultural and creative sectors (CCS) represent a significant contribution to the EU economy in terms of employment, competitiveness, social cohesion and diversity. However, a large number of companies in the sectors typically have difficulty accessing finance because they are often perceived as high-risk and with limited available collateral. The CCS Guarantee Facility (CCS GF), backed by the EC, is designed to change that and bridge this financing gap.

Boosted through the COVID-19 support measures, the CCS GF has been instrumental in helping many businesses active in the sector since the crisis began and throughout 2021. To date, the programme has supported close to 5,900 beneficiaries with €1.3bn. Once fully deployed, the programme is expected to make available a total of €2.5bn of financing for the cultural and creative sectors.

In May, we signed a guarantee agreement with Triodos Bank which will provide up to €200m in loans to around 250 entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative sectors in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Germany. This financing is intended to support SMEs with a specific focus on films and media productions, art schools, music festivals, theatres and music production.

“For today’s new generation of entrepreneurs who are millennials and gen Z, running a business ethically, that creates sustainable long-term value and a positive impact on society is an absolute. These entrepreneurs are putting their money in what matters and driving a fundamental shift in the thinking around value creation.”

Melisa Kosak


Shiftworks: events organisation


Tallinn, Estonia

Financial Intermediary

Finora Capital

EIF financing

Cultural & Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility; EFSI

Financing purpose


Number of employees


“The pride of citizens in relation to the content they create is at the core of the whole story, and it has important knock-on effects: People started caring about the content that we have right here in Tallinn. Festivals can be a very effective way to promote a city.”

Helen Sildna

Founder and CEO

Gender diversity and inclusion

Historically, through various mandates, we have tried to foster inclusive entrepreneurship and address diverse founders (e.g. EaSI, EFSI). These efforts are intensifying, while, at the same time, across the VC/PE industry we are seeing an increased focus on balanced management teams and female entrepreneurship becoming an investment strategy. More founding teams are putting forward strategies aiming to enhance gender diversity.

As part of the EIB Group Gender Strategy, the EIF and the EIB have together been shaping their second gender action plan. The plan focuses on women’s economic empowerment in the EU with the EIF deploying its support through investments in purpose-driven financial intermediaries.

In 2021, we supported a number of female-led funds including:

  • A €20m participation in Crowberry Fund II, a female-led fund backed by InnovFin Equity. The fund will support early-stage ICT companies in Iceland and the Nordics;
  • A €40m commitment of EGF resources in Bootstrap III, a venture debt fund providing senior secured debt facilities and led by two female managing partners with combined experience in technology and life sciences;
  • And a €80m commitment from EGF and SDUF resources in 2021 and €20m commitment from RCR resources in 2020 into Jeito, a fully female-led fund that offers investors a reduction of their carried interest if they also contribute to its not-for-profit organisation supporting early-stage innovation led by female entrepreneurs. Jeito is also part of the Venture Centre of Excellence (VCoE). (see Innovation & Digitalisation section).

Alongside fostering gender-smart investments, we are also strengthening the non-financial dimension of our efforts, such as offering capacity building and networking opportunities that will enable greater gender diversity in the world of finance and VC/PE more specifically. This is flanked by marketing, research and market awareness-raising efforts that can serve to highlight the importance and added value of a diverse team make-up.

Looking ahead, the upcoming InvestEU programme is expected to be the first EIF-managed initiative focusing on strengthening women’s economic empowerment and boosting their participation in the VC/PE fields in particular, sending a strong signalling effect to the market.

Ethical banking

Over the year, we also strengthened our cooperation with the ethical banks network FEBEA. The federation brings together 33 financial institutions from 15 European countries, with the aim of developing and promoting ethical finance principles. Guarantee transactions we signed under EGF with Banca Etica in Italy, La Nef in France, and Merkur in Denmark build on the excellent cooperation that the EIF has developed over the years with many ethical lenders of the FEBEA network.

SDUF Social Impact

The EIF has a decade-long experience with impact investing and is committed to driving forward the growth and evolution of this space. We have worked with our partners to promote the visibility of and belief in a viable social impact future.

SDUF is an investment vehicle advised by the EIF that provides attractive risk-adjusted, market-level financial return and at the same time supports sustainable development through investment compartments with a strong strategic and policy orientation.

The second of these compartments, which focuses on social impact, was launched in 2021 and is open for fundraising. The intention is to offer investors a unique opportunity to access true social impact VC fund managers in the European ecosystem, thus boosting social entrepreneurship. The EIF expects that it will give investors exposure to potentially 200 social enterprises, related reporting and knowhow, which will contribute to forging a future where social impact and profit go hand-in-hand.

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