Agreement between the Italian Banking Association (ABI), national government and business associations to facilitate access to credit for female entrepreneurs.
ABI, in collaboration with the department of equal opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Economic Development, and the main business associations (Confindustria, Confapi, Rete imprese Italia, Alleanza delle cooperative italiane) has signed up, and agreement, which foresees a work plan to facilitate access to funds for female enterprises during the different phases of their working lives.
With the agreement banks allocate a set amount of credit for female enterprises / entrepreneurs. The credit can either be used for investments and costs related to new business or freelance work or to support SMEs / female entrepreneurs going through periods of economic difficulty.
The credit is guaranteed by a special section of a national Guarantee Fund for SMEs with female participation and by other public and private guarantees that the banks could access.
Beneficiaries can be SMEs with majority female participation and female freelancers. The funds are open to enterprises and entrepreneurs from any economic sector and there is no age limit to participation.
By signing the agreement, parties also commit to the creation of an Observatory to monitor results and evaluate any need of modification or integration of the Protocol, in order to improve relations between banks, female enterprises and female freelancers. The Department for Equal Opportunity also set up a communication campaign, with dedicated website.
Economic resources are required as credit to the SMES / entrepreneurs. The national Department for Equal opportunities allocated a total of 8M€.
The national ministry also invested economic and human resources in a communication campaign to about the initiative.
Evidence of success
By the 30/9/17, 36 banks had joined the Protocol with a total fund of 1.5 billion €. The agreement was extended twice, the first time for 2 years and a second time until 31/12/19. Participants agreed to extend the agreement given its positive impact and to evaluate activities over a longer timeframe. Since the Fund’s inception operability (January 2000) 110.746 female enterprises have been guaranteed by the Fund, with funding of €8.7 billion accepted and a guaranteed amount of €5.6 billion.
Potential for learning or transfer
Within the FEMINA project, partners have identified the access to credit for females as one of the main barriers to their participation in high-tech sectors and particularly in starting their own business. In this GP, the public sector has addressed this by working with the banking sector to improve their approach to female credit. This type of agreement could be replicated, not only at national level as in this case, but also at regional level. Regional authorities could establish such cooperation to link their funding programmes for start-ups / female entrepreneurship to the banking world.
The Communication campaign set up by the Ministry is another possible element for transfer. It demonstrates the necessity not only to make funding / credit / guarantees available, but also to make sure that potential beneficiaries are provided with the right information to participation and that this information is readily accessible.
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