The SME Initiative is a joint financial instrument of the EC and the EIB Group (the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund) which aims to stimulate SME financing by providing partial risk cover for SME loan portfolios of originating financial institutions. Alongside the European Structural and Investment Funds (“ESIF”) resources contributed by the Member States, the SME Initiative is co-funded by the European Union through COSME and/or Horizon 2020 resources as well as EIB Group resources. The SME Initiative is currently operational in Bulgaria, Finland, Malta and SpainIn the future, it may be extended to other EU Member States.

The EIF is the entrusted entity by the adhering Member States to implement and manage the SME Initiative in close cooperation with the EIB.

How does the SME Initiative work?

The initiative contemplates the implementation of up to two products: an uncapped portfolio guarantee instrument and a securitisation instrument. Via the SME Initiative, the EIF offers selected financial intermediaries (e.g. banks, leasing companies, guarantee institutions, debt funds) loss protection and potential capital relief at an advantageous cost. In return for this risk-sharing, the financial intermediaries undertake to provide SME loans, leasing and/or guarantees at favourable terms (for example, reduced interest rates and collateral requirements for the final recipients). Financial Intermediaries are selected through EIF via an Open Call for Expression of Interest. Member States can opt-in to the SME Initiative until the end of 2016, by expressing their interest to the European Commission.

What are the benefits for Member States and Managing Authorities?

Compared to other financial instruments that can be set up with ESIF funding, the SME Initiative offers to Member States and Managing Authorities the following advantages:

No co-financing required from national or regional resources;

No need to conduct additional ex-ante assessment, which has already been

completed at EU level by the European Commission and the EIB in 2013;  

The European Commission and the EIB Group have already adopted a

‘Model Funding Agreement’, which is a ready-made template for the

Funding Agreement to be negotiated between Member States and the


Treatment of State Aid has already been cleared by the European


Possible combination of various resources, including grant funding and

resources from national or promotional banks;

Due to the contribution from different stakeholders, the leverage on

ESIF contributed by Member States is expected to be high when

compared to other EU-level instruments funded by ESIF; Strong EU

support, in addition to EIB Group mobilising own funds.

How to benefit from the SME Initiative for SMEs:

Are you looking for debt finance? Download here  the list of financial intermediaries currently operating under the SME Initiative. For information about finance available under further EU initiatives, please visit

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