First Employment and Social Innovation Microfinance Deal in Albania to Benefit 5,000 Micro-Enterprises
Albanian Daily News
Published June 23, 2016

The European Investment Fund
(EIF) and Fondi Besa (BESA) have signed the first guarantee
agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Albaniaunder the EU Programme for
Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

This new EaSIguarantee agreement
with the non-bank
microfinance institutionBESA,will cover a loan portfolio of ALL 3billion (c. €22million) formicro-borrowers,
targeting in particular the agribusiness sector and youth entrepreneurial
activity.More than 5,000 micro-borrowers with limited access
to finance are expected to benefit from this transaction.

Marianne Thyssen,Commissioner
for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said:"Thanks to EU funding, €22
million in loans at lower interest rates will be offered to young entrepreneurs
and microenterprises in the agribusiness sector in Albania. Agriculture is a
vital sector of Albania's economy and provides employment for almost 50% of the
population in rural areas. Through its EaSIprogramme, the European Commission
confirms its commitment to reinforce local economies, give a boost to growth
and jobs and help the most vulnerable people on the labour market."

EIF Chief
Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert said: "I am pleased that we are signing our first EaSImicrofinance
agreement in Albania which will help to provide finance to over 5,000
micro-entrepreneurs in the country. BESA's micro-finance loans and mentoring
services will provide micro-borrowers with valuable tools for success. Signing
at the Microfinance Centre's annual conference in Tirana demonstrates to the
microfinance market, the concrete results of what the EaSIprogramme aims to
deliver across the continent."

Prof. Assoc. Dr.
Bajram Muçaj - CEO of FondiBesash.asaid: Contribution to
strengthening SME sectorin Albania stands high on FondiBesa priorities and we
are very happy to cooperate with European Investment Fund to extend the provision
of access for loans to agribusiness sector and young entrepreneurs. We believe
that EIF support will be an added value to our activity, producing more
positive impact in social-economic life of our customers and of the country.

Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a micro-loan
under EaSI in Albania can do so directly via Fondi BESA's branches.EIF will not
provide direct financial support to enterprises but will implement the facility
through local financial intermediaries, such as microfinance, social finance and
guarantee institutions, as well as banks active across the EU-28 and additional
countries that are participating in the EaSI programme. These intermediaries
will deal with interested parties directly to provide support under the EaSI

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