Bratislava, January 28, 2020 – Joint initiatives by the Slovak Investment Holding (SIH) and the Slovenská sporiteľňa bank, and as well as the Polish company Towarzystwo Inwestycji Społeczno-Ekonomicznych (TISE) have been launched for the support of social economy, by means of loans to social enterprises and social impact enterprises. Loan applicants will be able to start applying as early as February this year.
The preferential loans for these greater social economy enterprises are to be based on a combination of SIH funds, which derive from the EU Human Resources Operational Program, with the financial resources of Slovenská sporiteľňa and TISE. Both companies have been selected via the public procurement process. In its role as a project partner, SIH will provide a guarantee of €3.75 million, on the basis of which the remaining partners will generate new loans worth €18.75 million, funded by themselves.
In this way, opportunities for favourable and, even more importantly, accessible finance for social enterprises are being created. By the end of 2023, it is envisaged that thanks to the co-operation between the Slovak Investment Holding, Slovenská sporiteľňa and TISE, support may be received by over 300 companies.
Michal Polák, SIH Board Social Economy Advisor, described this cooperation between SIH and its partners as a “unique project” in Slovakia. “It is the first systematic instrument for repayable support of the social economy, representing a fruitful collaboration of the public and private sectors. Under normal commercial conditions, social enterprises face great barriers in gaining access to credit, as they are viewed as atypical business entities that often do not pass the banks’ risk assessment tests. Our guarantee constitutes an effective way of overcoming these difficulties. It is one of the three pillars of the social economy support system currently being established in Slovakia. The second pillar, which is already functional in the guise of the regional advice centres, is soon to be joined by the third, in the form of a supplementary grant scheme run by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family. By launching the guarantee instrument, SIH is putting in place the building block for which it is responsible within the whole social economy support system architecture.”
Rastislav Blažej, who supervises the financing social economy entities in Slovenská sporiteľňa, stated that the mission of Slovenská sporiteľňa, as well as the Erste Group as a whole, is to expand prosperity in the region in which it operates. “Therefore, as an integral part of our business, we are also keen on developing social banking and promoting social entrepreneurship. We are delighted that we and the public sector think alike in this respect, as the public sector should definitely play a supportive role in this area. By combining our know-how and public funds, we believe that this project will lead to a scaling-up of the existing levels of support and become a catalyst for the successful development of the social economy in Slovakia.”
Mikolaj Kowalczyk, Chairman of TISE Board, commented: “For TISE, this is an important step in our international development. Within Poland, we have been supporting the social economy by providing loans for almost 30 years, and we have already provided tens of millions of euros to social enterprises from our own resources, from the European Structural and Investment Funds, and from other sources. We have already undertaken some activities in Slovakia and other CEE countries before, but thanks to the cooperation with SIH, Slovakia is now becoming the most important country after our own. We look forward to supporting the social economy here, in co-operation with the Slovak public sector.”
Additional SIH financial instruments for the Slovak social economy are under development.
Information about SIH
SIH is a 100% state-owned joint stock company. Its primary goal is to support strategic public and private investments in Slovakia in the areas of infrastructure, energy efficiency, waste management, social economy, health, cultural and creative industries and small and medium-sized enterprises. SIH draws on European Structural and Investment Funds to make investments. Projects are financed exclusively in returnable form, i.e., using financial instruments rather than grants.
Slovenská sporiteľňa was founded in 1824 as the first savings bank in Slovakia. It evolved from its subsidiaries Die Erste oesterreichische Spar-Casse in Bratislava. Slovenská sporiteľňa currently ranks as the largest commercial bank in Slovakia, holding a full foreign exchange licence as well a license to carry out mortgage banking transactions. It has the largest share of the deposit market and also the largest branch network.
TISE, set up in 1991, is a socio-economic investment company which manages a loan fund for non-governmental organizations, social enterprises, micro-enterprises and SMEs. Today it is owned by the French bank Crédit Coopératif, which has been financing projects in the social economy sector for over 120 years. In 2002, TISE joined the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (FEBEA).