(12 September 2013) – More than 6000 entrepreneurs have already benefitted from loans worth a total of close to €50 million under the European Progress Microfinance Facility, according to the third annual report on this EU instrument.
The report confirms that Progress Microfinance has significantly contributed to job creation, helping a high percentage of people who were previously unemployed or inactive into employment. In particular, microfinance facilitates self-employment and entrepreneurship among groups who typically have more difficulties to raise money, such as young people and minorities.
The report indicates that almost one third of final beneficiaries said they were unemployed or inactive when they applied. Almost 80% of the micro-companies supported are start-ups operating for less than three years. Agriculture and trade remain the two sectors receiving most support from the Facility, accounting for more than a half of all supported enterprises.
Training and mentoring also plays an important role in boosting entrepreneurship, in addition to access to finance. The intermediaries through which Progress Microfinance financing is channelled are contractually bound to cooperate with organisations providing such training and mentoring.
Member States can use the European Social Fund to provide assistance in the form of coaching or training for business starters. In Ireland, for example, the ‘Going for Growth’ initiative, designed to support women business starters via mentoring and coaching, is funded in part through the Human Capital Investment ESF Operational Programme 2007-2013.