European Western Balkans

First Employment and Social Innovation microfinance deal in Albania to benefit 5,000 micro-enterprises

Flags of Albania and EU; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Fondi Besa (BESA) have signed the first guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Albania under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). This new EaSI guarantee agreement with the non-bank microfinance institution BESA, will cover a loan portfolio of ALL 3 billion (c. €22 million) for micro-borrowers, targeting in particular the agribusiness sector and youth entrepreneurial activity. More than 5,000 micro-borrowers with limited access to finance are expected to benefit from this transaction. The EU is the largest provider of financial and technical assistance to Albania. As negotiating candidate in the process of EU accession, the country is undertaking a series of reforms to get closer to EU standards. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “Thanks to EU funding, €22 million in loans at lower interest rates will be offered to young entrepreneurs and microenterprises in the agribusiness sector in Albania. Agriculture is a vital sector of Albania’s economy and provides employment for almost 50% of the population in rural areas. Through its EaSI programme, the European Commission confirms not only its commitment to reinforce local economies, but also to work towards upwards convergence by providing financial assistance to countries eligible to join the EU.”

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