European Investment Fund and Šiaulių bankas sign first agreement under Progress Microfinance in Lithuania to benefit micro-enterprises


The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Šiaulių bankas today signed a EUR 5 million loan agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Lithuania.


This agreement will allow Šiaulių bankas to provide enhanced access to finance to micro-entrepreneurs and will in particular, improve access to the credit market for women entrepreneurs in Lithuania.

This transaction was signed under the European Progress Microfinance Facility (Progress Microfinance), funded by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank and managed by the European Investment Fund.
Commenting on the transaction, Chief Executive of the EIF, Richard Pelly said: “We are pleased to be signing our first loan agreement under Progress Microfinance in Lithuania with Šiaulių bankas. I am convinced that this long-term funding will help to benefit micro-enterprises, in particular women entrepreneurs and contribute to the economic growth and job creation in Lithuania”.

 “This microfinance facility is very important expanding the activity of micro-enterprises, stimulating investments into capacities, creating quality jobs and for social inclusion by increasing Women’s Entrepreneurship. We believe that “Progress” initiative can efficiently contribute to the economic dynamics and increase of employment in the regions of the country”, said the Chief Executive Officer of Šiaulių bankas Audrius Žiugžda.

This agreement will allow Šiaulių bankas to complement its current SME lending activity and to scale up its micro-lending business. This transaction marks the continuation of the fruitful collaboration between the EIB Group and Šiaulių bankas, following the signature of two transactions by EIF and Šiaulių bankas under the JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises initiative) mandate in January 2010 (EUR 40 million) and in June 2011 (EUR 25 million) regarding the financing of SME as well as of two transactions by EIB in May and November 2010 for respectively EUR 6m and EUR 15m under the JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) mandate for the renovation and modernisation of multi-apartment buildings in Lithuania.

About the European Progress Microfinance Facility
The European Progress Microfinance Facility (EPMF) is a microfinance initiative established with EUR 200 million of funding from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. EPMF 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 of up to EUR 25,000 are made available through eligible intermediaries participating in the facility.

About the EIF
EIF designs and develops venture capital and guarantees 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. The EIF total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 5.4bn at end 2010. With investments in over 300 funds, the 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. The EIF commitment in guarantees totaled over EUR 14.7bn in close to 160 operations at end 2010, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.

About  Šiaulių bankas
Šiaulių bankas controlled by the Lithuanian investors and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) directs its activity towards the SME and provision of financial services to individuals. Šiaulių bankas is one of the banks having the largest share of the Lithuanian capital in the country: companies registered in Lithuania and individuals possess 71 per cent of the Bank’s authorised capital. The Bank possesses 52 territorial outlets operating throughout the Lithuania.