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The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Swedbank have signed a microfinance agreement aimed at supporting micro-businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). Thanks to the financial backing of the European Commission, the European Investment Fund is providing a guarantee which will enable Swedbank Baltic to provide up to EUR 123 million financing to

microbusinesses in Baltic countries over the next three years. The deal also benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core element of the Investment Plan for Europe.

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: “With the help of EU funding, Swedbank is increasing the access to finance in Baltic countries for micro-enterprises, including young entrepreneurs and the unemployed. This will benefit around 5000 small businesses in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This financial support shows again that the European Commission is fully committed to boosting employment in Europe and getting more people into jobs, especially the most vulnerable people on the labour market."

Charlotte Elsnitz, Swedbank's Head of Baltic Banking, said: “As a home bank for tens of thousands of companies in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania we proudly enable access to needed investment capital for micro-enterprises. We are glad we have agreed the biggest EaSI guarantee limit in the region. The limit will help us to provide financing on favorable conditions to more than 5 000 small businesses in Baltic countries. The guarantee also expands access to financing to vulnerable groups such as young people lacking entrepreneurial experience or the unemployed. This is a step needed to secure a sustainable economic development in the region.”

 EIF Head of Inclusive Finance, Per Erik Eriksson, commented: “We are delighted to be announcing a new EaSI guarantee agreement with Swedbank which is crucial for the continuation of support to micro-entrepreneurs across the Baltics. The guarantee from EIF will be instrumental in helping small businesses who may be having difficulties in accessing much needed finance for their business.”