A number of new case studies will soon be published by fi-compass. These include information and experiences from financial instruments using the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Practical information explaining the instruments' funding arrangements are featured in the case studies as well as personal perspectives from people involved with their management.
Belgium's INNODEM2 loan fund is one of these case studies and the new fi-compass publication will describe how this ERDF instrument helped to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from southern Belgium to invest in diversification and innovation. INNODEM2 loans were combined with free advisory services like legal advice, accounting, communication, training and networking. All these played useful roles in contributing to the success rate of the SMEs and the case study highlights how this support led to businesses being able to boost their turnover and workforce.
Poland's Mazovia region will be the focus of a new ESF case study that highlights how entrepreneurship can be fostered using a financial instrument for business start-ups. Here the country's Human Capital Operational Programme was used to help introduce a revolving loan fund targeted at tackling unemployment. Designed for people who wanted to start a business but had limited access to capital, the case study about this instrument also highlights the advantages that can be gained from packaging credit services with business training for final recipients. Outcomes show how using the ESF to co‑finance loans in this way can help people to get started businesses. Success stories are spotlighted such as entrepreneurs in the catering sector.
Spanish experiences from the Extremadura region are summarised and presented in another forthcoming fi-compass case study. It highlights information and lessons learnt from a Holding Fund financing SMEs that was set up by the Joint European Resources for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (JEREMIE) initiative. ERDF co-finance was used in this case to help provide assistance of up to EUR 250 000 for SMEs. Credit provided through the Holding Fund was made available with options for long payback periods and more affordable interest rates.
Pilar Durán Solano from the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration of the Government of Extremadura spoke about their experience with JEREMIE during the fi-compass Member State seminar in Madrid. She drew attention to how this first experience with financial instruments enabled them to increase their internal capacity. ”When facing the launch of a financial instrument we have the impression that it is complicated, however it has been a testing ground to gain experience and to deal with the main problems that arise when you get started. But there are two main reasons that justify going for financial instruments compared to non-refundable grants: their revolving effect and the leverage effect.”
These key benefits from financial instruments are also demonstrated in a soon-to-be released fi-compass study from Italy's Lombardy region. Here an ESF microloan scheme has been used with good effect to develop the capital of cooperatives and promote social inclusion for job seekers. By combining public and private resources, the financial instrument helped to improve the provision of health, social and educational services and assisted disadvantaged people in finding jobs. Outcomes explained in the case study show how "cooperatives achieved better equity ratios and could more easily access additional finance, leading to more disadvantaged people being included into the labour market".
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