Today the European Commission adopted the SME initiative programme in Finland, worth €40 million, with €20 million from the European Regional Development Fundand €20 million from the national budget. The SME initiative boosts the competitiveness of small businesses through better access to finance.
The programme will provide guarantees to financial intermediaries that give loans to SMEs. Thanks to the leverage effect, the guarantees are expected to unlock over €360 million of fresh loans for Finnish businesses.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: "SMEs play a critical role in Finland's economy: businesses provide jobs to the local community and bring new innovations to the market. The new SME initiative being launched today in Finland will provide invaluable financial support to these small companies which is to everyone's benefit. After Spain, Malta, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania, Finland is the sixth EU Member State to take up this excellent initiative.I hope more Member States will join soon."
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "I want to congratulate the Finnish authorities on signing up to the SME initiative. Finland is now in the leading group of EU countries benefiting from this innovating tool that will give a boost to start-ups and small businesses. I want Member States to use ESI Funds in new and creative ways, and this is exactly what Finland is doing. I hope more Member States follow this example."
The Finnish Authorities and the European Investment Fund will now define the technical details of the funding agreement and then select the financial intermediaries participating in the scheme. The first loans to SMEs should be available by early 2017.
The SME Initiative is a joint financial instrument of the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund. It was designed as a fast and effective response instrument to leverage increased private and public resources for the benefit of small businesses.
It is part of a broader initiative of the Commission and the EIB Group to encourage Member States to double the amount of European Structural and Investment Funds used through financial instruments, in line with the objectives of the Investment Plan for Europe.
The funding provided under the programme will be combined with additional funding (2%) through Horizon 2020, managed jointly by the Commission and by the European Investment Fund, as well as with risk coverage provided by the European Investment Bank.
The enterprise landscape in Finland is dominated by SMEs (around 280 000). SMEs in Finland represent 913 000 jobs.