European Union and France unlock €715 million for small businesses

Submitted by Lee Gibson on 09 December 2020

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in France can now access loans with more flexible terms after the European Investment Fund (EIF) and Bpifrance, the French Public Investment Bank, struck a new deal.

The loan guarantees are provided by the digitalisation initiative under the European Commission's Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programme, launched by the European Commission to improve access to finance for SMEs.

Thanks to COSME support under the COSME Digitalisation Pilot, Bpifrance will launch a new guarantee product (France Num Loan Guarantee) dedicated to supporting the digital transformation of French SMEs, with a strong focus on very small enterprises (maximum loan amount of €50,000) and a guarantee rate of 80%.

The guarantee provided by Bpifrance will support access to finance without the obligation on the SME to provide any additional hard collateral. EIF’s participation in this transaction was made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe of the European Commission.

Alain Godard, EIF Chief Executive, said: “This partnership will help small businesses finance development and growth plans, whilst bringing digital solutions to their businesses.

"The agreement between the EIF and Bpifrance, guaranteed by the European Commission, brings €715 million in more affordable financing to French companies and unlocks new opportunities for businesses to increase their digital footprint.

"We are particularly pleased to be able to do our part in helping French businesses as they seek to recover from the covid-19 crisis and transition to a more digital economy.”

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market added: ‘’Europe’s SMEs need our support to master the digital transformation and fully integrate into the European as well as global value chains.

"This is at the heart of the EU SME strategy. I welcome the France Num initiative which will empower French SMEs in digital transition, thanks to the reinforcement by the COSME programme and in the future, to the European Recovery and Resilience Facility and InvestEU.”

The COSME Digitalisation Pilot supports the digitalisation of SMEs in Europe by guaranteeing 70% of eligible loans provided by banks. Operated by Bpifrance in France, it is available to all French banks.

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