TITOLO DEL WORKSHOP: Strumenti microfinanziari europei

COORDINATORE: Riccardo Aguglia - Senior Microfinance Investment Manager
RELATORI: Claudia Belli - BNP Paribas, Head of Social Business and Microfinance, CSR Domenico Leone - Banca Popolare di Milano, Responsabile Finanziamenti, Marketing Eugenio Minucci - Permicro, direttore operativo Claudia Belli – BNP Paribas

What does financial inclusion mean for your organisation?

Financial inclusion translates into supporting microfinance, this is part of BNP Paribas’ Corporate Social Responsibility approach. Thus BNP Paribas has become a privileged partner of several MFIs. In 2015 more than 250.000 people excluded from the traditional banking system were able to implement their projects and improve their living standard thanks the Group funding. BNP Paribas has decided to be proactive and increase the number of beneficiaries of microcreditors who are funded by the MFI we support: by 2018 the group aims to serve indirectly 350.000 beneficiaries.

What role does your organisation play as a financial inclusion agent?

For BNP Paribas the support to Social Entreprises and Microfinance is one of the small but strategic activities that promotes ambitious and socially responsible commitments. The role of BNP Paribas is to support all the needs of MFI through financing in 16 countries and other technical assistance: -financing to MFIs can be in Emerging or mature markets , it goes through loans to MFI (direct financing) or through investment into MFI funds, through the creation and distribution of managed SRI funds including 5% to 10% of investment into MFIs (Solidarity Saving funds), through the coordination of volunteers of the Bank providing their skills as technical assistance... The sum of the financial support accounts for EUR 240 m in 30 MFIs or funds as of June 2016. Beyond this BNPP develops now a tool to mesure the social impact of the several social entreprises including microfinance. This tool will be helpful for our relationship managers but also to the clients who will have an easy to use tool that can help them to raise funding;

Eugenio Minucci - PerMicro

Could you please tell us how your Financial Institution has been involved in EU microfinance programmes?

PerMicro has been deeply involved in EU Microfinance Programmes: first of all a Guarantee Fund from European Investment Fund (EIF guarantee covers a max portfolio of 20 million euro for a period of 30 months from the beginning of the contract). PerMicro has also obtained a Loan of 2,850 thousand euro (1st segment already paid, 2nd one to be delivered) with a reimbursement in 5 years. Moreover PerMicro has also benefitted from a contribution for its Training as part of the technical assistance (3 training sessions were organized covering costs of didactics, materials and locations). As a complementary part to the training, PerMicro has also had the opportunity to undergo a Rating by Microfinance Rating. This activity has represented a big cost for the MFI in terms of dedicated time and data collection, however the rating has improved and PerMicro has had the opportunity to go through a checklist of qualitative questions and pursue the answers.

Could you please tell us one strength and one weakness of EU microfinance programme?

The fact that the programme is specifically addressed to institutions with a strong social attitude and an adequate management with acceptable risk is a great strength, since it avoids a “distorted” use of resources. However, a tangible distance of European structures from local issues (with their own legislation, codes, ecc.) assumes the shape of what may appear as a bureaucratic approach upon operational activities. Do you think the EU programmes for microfinance are more suitable for MFIs or Banks and why? EU programmes for microfinance appear to be more suitable for MFIs because of the social character of their activity, the type of business and their target customers. Moreover, the concept of “economically sustainable” is not a synonym of “profitable”, therefore a programme aiming at sustaining economically weaker subjects would not have, in this historical phase, the right level of attention in the evolving banking system.

Domenico Leone – BPM Come gestisce BPM le azioni di Microfinanza?

BPM è per tradizione una banca territoriale, per questo motivo, adottare programmi di microfinanza rientra tra gli obiettivi della Banca. Insieme al Fondo Europeo degli Investimenti ha proposto a partire dal 2013 un finanziamento specifico per aziende e liberi professionisti che avviano un’attività o che hanno necessità di rilanciarla, in un contesto di scarsità di garanzie, ma con buoni progetti imprenditoriali. Per la banca questa opportunità ha rappresentato l’occasione per guardare in modo diverso al mondo imprenditoriale, in un’ottica di inclusione e resilienza.

Quali sono i punti di forza e di debolezza dei programmi europei di microfinanza?

I programmi europei hanno sicuramente raggiunto il loro obiettivo in termini di sensibilizzazione verso nuove forme imprenditoriali, solo in apparenza più deboli ma che possono diventare imprese strutturate entro breve tempo. Queste imprese avrebbero sicuramente avuto maggiori difficoltà ad ottenere credito per l’avvio o il rilancio della loro attività imprenditoriale. Tuttavia, l’approccio per “programmi a scadenza” non sempre garantisce quella continuità necessaria per seguire la crescita economica delle imprese.

Quale ruolo svolge la tua Istituzione nei programmi di inclusione finanziaria?

Per BPM è fondamentale dare la possibilità a nuove imprese di accedere al credito con facilità e in modo sostenibile, per questo nella nostra Istituzione sono presenti delle figure specialistiche che verificano costantemente le opportunità di finanza agevolata proposte da istituzioni pubbliche. Sovente il supporto della Banca è collaterale, come anticipazione finanziaria del contributo o finanziamento erogato dall’ente. L’obiettivo è quello di migliorare l’equilibrio finanziario delle imprese, offrendo servizi coerenti con il loro percorso di crescita (es. servizi di pagamento elettronici).

How BPM manages the Microfinance programs?

BPM is traditionally a commercial and regional bank therefore, the adoption of Microfinance programs falls within the scope of the Bank. In 2013 together with the European Investment Fund, BPM proposed some specific loans for companies and self-employed who started a business or who needed to-start a business, without any guarantee, but with an interesting business project. BPM took this as an opportunity to look differently to the microfinance business, with a view of inclusion and resilience.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of EU microfinance program?

The EU program certainly has achieved the scope of looking at typologies of business that although are initially weaker have a possibility to become well-structured companies within a reasonable period of time. These kind of companies have definitely more difficulty to access credit either to start or to proceed with their entrepreneurial activities. However, the approach of the programs with a “maturity date” does not always ensure the necessary continuity to follow the economic growth of companies.

What role your Institution plays in the financial inclusion programs?

It is a priority for BPM to give new companies the opportunity to have access to credit therefore, in our institution there are specialized professionals who monitor the opportunities offered by public institutions such as – among others - the European Investment Funds. Often the support offered by the Bank is to lend in advance the contribution or loan already approved by public institution. The goal is to improve the financial stability of the companies, by offering services in line with their growth path (eg. Electronic payment services).