Microfinance and the social economy were discussed at a fi-compass EaSI TA workshop on 2 March in Athens. The workshop built on existing Greek interests with microfinance and included a focus on the regulatory framework.
More than 60 delegates attended the workshop in Athens, including representatives from the Government (Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Labour), regional agencies, banks (both systemic and cooperative), suppliers of ‘businesses development services’ (BDS), microfinance entities, academics, the banking regulator, development finance institutions, non-for profits, and key experts from Greece and other European countries.
Facilitated by the European Investment Fund, the fi-compass workshop delegates discussed latest developments in Greece’s microfinance field (including legal matters) as well as the important role of the Business Development Services (BDS). In addition, a special roundtable was organised examining access to microfinance for refugee support. This drew on lessons learned from former refugee crisis in the Balkans.
Workshop speakers included Sotiris Laganopoulos (Bdodossaki Foundation), Dr Yiorgos Alexopoulos (European Research Institute on Coop and Social Enterprises) and Panagiotis Tournavitis (Cooperative Bank of Karditsa) highlighted the importance of microfinance for Greece: both for helping small businesses and disadvantaged people to access funding (inclusion) and helping social enterprises carrying their social mission.
Experiences from the German Microfinance Institute were shared by Joerg Schoolmann, who noted advantages from the Cooperative Model, such as possibilities for overcoming legal constraints in Greece concerning the mandates of non-banking bodies. Silke Mueffelmann, EaSI TA Team Leader then presented linkages between regulatory systems and effective delivery of microfinance services.
Other microfinance success factors were identified from an Italian case study presented by Corrado Ferretti of PerMIcro, and observations from Ageliki Zerva outlined a perspective from the Bank of Greece about the regulatory framework of microfinance in Greece. The key role for BDS was then spotlighted by Christos Pouris from the European Investment Bank (EIB) fi-compass team and these messages were illustrated by practical knowhow about providing BDS services on the ground by the Bodossaki Foundation and Action Finance Initiative.
Further EIB Group information was provided by Riccardo Aguglia from the European Investment Fund in a presentation about accelerating the deployment of EaSI via possibilities for combining different resources of EU funding for the support of the Greek microfinance market.
Overall conclusions from the event point to the growing interest in Greece for the opportunities offered by microfinance as an effective and sustainable economic recovery tool.
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