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NewsMicrofinance: a key element to relaunch investment in Europe

20/10/2017


Brussels/Warsaw, 20th October – Under the common tagline Fair Finance for All, today the European microfinance sector celebrates the 3rd European Microfinance Day, an initiative co-organised by the European Microfinance Network (EMN) and the Microfinance Centre (MFC). This year the sector is drawing attention to the need to ensure fair access to finance, putting the focus on those who are underserved by the traditional banking sector.

Following two previous editions which focused on job creation opportunities and on non-financial services, 23 members from both networks and from 14 European countries, including Opportunity Bank Serbia, are organising different activities to highlight the importance of the microfinance sector in tackling some of the most significant challenges in society: unemployment, social exclusion, lack of entrepreneurship, etc. High-level events, open-door days, workshops, extra discounts on loans and mentoring, short films, impact studies, special factsheets, participation in TV shows, online dissemination, and discussion panels are just some of the actions that the sector will carry out to involve the general public, policy makers and the media in the 3rd European Microfinance Day.

The purpose of the current campaign is twofold. On one hand, to stress the opportunities that microfinance can offer the segments of the population that are habitually underserved by the traditional banking sector: young people, senior citizens, women, rural populations, the unemployed, low-salaried workers, minorities and migrants – the provision of financial and business development services to these people is often the missing link to self-employment and job creation across the continent. On the other hand, to serve as a reminder that microcredit can also help to stimulate local economies and generate tax revenues, thus underscoring the fact that microfinance should be considered a key element in the plans to relaunch investment in Europe.

According to the report “Microfinance in Europe: A Survey of EMN-MFC members”, the European microfinance sector reached an outstanding gross microloan portfolio of 2.5 billion euros in 2015, serving 747,265 active borrowers. For the same period, the MFIs surveyed disbursed a total of 552,834 loans (+12% compared to 2014) with a total volume of almost 1.6 billion euros (+16%). With regard to the promotion of entrepreneurship and job creation, the MFIs surveyed have continuously supported microenterprises, start-ups, social enterprises and self-employed people In 2015, the number of active borrowers supported by business microloans reached a total of 402,365 (+8%).