First Progress Microfinance agreement in Sweden for micro-enterprises

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Almi Företagspartner AB (Almi) have
signed a guarantee agreement aimed at supporting around 230 micro-enterprises
within a year in five counties in Sweden.

This agreement will allow Almi to provide enhanced access to finance to
entrepreneurs in Sweden, especially those who face difficulties in accessing credit
from traditional banking sources.

Progress Microfinance is funded by the European Commission and managed by the
European Investment Fund.
Commenting on the agreement, Head of Microfinance Per-Erik Eriksson said: ?We
are pleased to be signing our first guarantee agreement in Sweden under Progress
Microfinance with Almi. We are happy to co-operate with a very experienced
institution in this field and are thus convinced that this finance will help to benefit
micro-enterprises, in particular vulnerable groups and thereby contribute to social
inclusion in Sweden?.

This contract allows Almi in the counties of Västmanland, Örebro, Gävleborg,
Dalarna and Östergötland to offer microloans without any collateral requirements,
which contributes to improving the access to finance for these businesses.
The transaction will allow Almi, to continue further developing its current lending
activity to small and micro-enterprises in Sweden.
Göran Lundwall, CEO of Almi said: ?This agreement will allow us to provide
enhanced access to finance for Swedish entrepreneurs. In this first phase it is limited
to five counties, but I hope we will be able to offer it in all regions in Sweden in the
future.?

Micro-enterprises wishing to apply for a micro-loan under Progress Microfinance can
directly contact Almi?s branches in Mälardalen (covering the counties Västmanland
and Örebro), Gävledala (covering the counties Gävleborg and Dalarna), and
Östergötland.

About the European Progress Microfinance Facility
The European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance) provides
guarantees and funded instruments to microfinance intermediaries. The initiative
is established with EUR 205 million of funding from the European Commission
and the European Investment Bank. Progress Microfinance aims to increase access
to finance for micro-entrepreneurs, including the self-employed. It has a particular
focus on, but is not restricted to, groups with limited access to the conventional credit
market. Examples include female entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs
belonging to a minority group, entrepreneurs with a disability, sole traders etc. Loans
less than EUR 25,000 are made available through selected intermediaries participating
in the facility. Progress Microfinance does not provide direct financing to micro-entrepreneurs or individuals.

Almi marks the 53rd transaction signed under Progress Microfinance since its
inception in 2010. To date, commitments of over EUR 130 million under Progress
Microfinance have been signed to benefit EU micro-borrowers. Countries where
agreements have been signed to date include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus,
Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania,
Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the UK.

For further information about this initiative please visit: www.ec.europa.eu/epmf

About EIF
The European Investment Fund’s (EIF) central mission is to support Europe’s micro,
small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance.
EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance
instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters
EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship,
growth, and employment. EIF?s total net commitments to private equity funds
amounted to over EUR 7.9bn at end 2013. With investments in over 435 funds, EIF is
a leading player in European venture due to the scale and the scope of its investments,
especially in high-tech and early-stage segments. EIF?s guarantees loan portfolio
totalled over EUR 5.6bn in over 300 operations at end 2013, positioning it as a major
European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

More information about EIF is available on www.eif.org.

About Almi
Almi’s vision is to create opportunities for all viable ideas and companies to be
developed. We offer advisory services, loans and venture capital through all phases
of the establishment of a business ? from idea to successful company. This includes
ideas with potential for growth in the early stages as well as existing companies
that are investing in growth and expansion. Almi Företagspartner AB is owned by
the Swedish government and is the parent company of a group consisting of 16
regional subsidiaries, Almi Invest AB and IFS R?dgivning AB. With 40 offices across
Sweden, we are always close to our customers.

Press information – EIF, please contact:
David Yormesor, [email protected], or visit EIF?s website www.eif.org
Almi: Lars Mardbrant, [email protected] (+46 70 3143434 )

Information in Swedish: http://www.almi.se/Aktuellt/nytt-mikrolan

Om Almi
Almis vision är att skapa möjligheter för alla bärkraftiga idéer och företag att utvecklas. Med r?dgivning, l?n, riskkapital och inkubation möter vi kunderna i företagandets alla faser – fr?n idéer till framg?ngsrika företag. Det omfattar s?väl idéer med tillväxtpotential i tidiga faser som befintliga företag i en expansionsfas.
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