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EUR 10 million of loans for cultural and creative SMEs in Romania

The European Investment Fund and Libra Internet Bank have today signed the first guarantee agreement in Romania, supported under the new Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility from the EU's Creative Europe programme.

The European Union's support allows Libra Internet Bank to start targeting a new sector and to roll-out a new financing product to support a portfolio of RON 45 million (ca. EUR 10 million) of loans to companies over the next two years. More than 200 SMEs in the cultural and creative sectors (including editorial and computer game publishing, performing arts, artistic creation) are expected to access this new programme. This is the third agreement signed under the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility, following Spanish and French agreements announced in January.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, and Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: "Today's agreement is excellent news for Romanian SMEs active in all creative sectors, from festivals and design to literature and artistic crafts. More than 200 of them will benefit from the backing of our guarantee facility. This is a very good tool to bridge the financing gap for these sectors. It contributes to supporting Europe's diverse and rich culture. And it proves that the Commission's framework programme Creative Europe can effectively use innovative ways to support the culture and creative sectors and inspire partnerships across Europe."

EIF Head of EU Guarantee Facilities, Gunnar Mai, said: “I am delighted that we are signing the first Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility agreement in Romania, with our long-standing partner Libra Internet Bank. Access to finance is very often limited for companies in the cultural and creative sectors and this new agreement will allow Libra Internet Bank to start financing a new sector.”

Commenting on the operation, General Director at Libra Internet Bank, Emil Bituleanu said: “We are pleased to be the first bank in Romania that signed the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility. We are confident in the potential of this new sector we are targeting and we are glad to support SMEs to access finance through affordable products, guaranteed by the European Investment Fund”.

The creative and cultural sectors represent more than 7 million jobs in the EU and account for 4.2% of the EU's GDP (source). Access to finance can be difficult to obtain for companies active within these sectors, primarily due to the intangible nature of their assets and collateral, the limited size of the market, uncertainty about demand, and also lack of financial intermediary expertise in addressing sector specificities.

The new Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility includes capacity building activities for financial intermediaries, giving them specific expertise on key characteristics of these sectors (e.g. specific business models and credit risk assessment in the sectors). This kind of expertise would be provided by capacity building provider(s) selected by the EIF (e.g. consultancies specialised in the way the cultural and creative sectors work) following an open call for tenders. Such support will be free of charge for financial intermediaries.

About the EIF

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

About Libra Internet Bank

Libra Internet Bank is a Romanian legal person, regulated by the Romanian law and the supervisory norms of the National Bank of Romania. Libra Internet Bank has a network of 49 national branches and is addressed mainly to customers in the SMEs segment, Corporate, Professionals and Agriculture.

About the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility and Creative Europe

Set up under the cross-sectoral strand of the Creative Europe programme, the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility is the first EU investment instrument with such a wide scope in the culture and creative sectors. It pursues the same objective as the SME window of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which drives the Investment Plan for Europe: increasing lending to SMEs to enable them to scale up their activities.

Creative Europe is a 7-year programme (2014-2020) designed to support the creative and cultural sectors. It has a budget of EUR 1.46 billion for the whole duration of the period. It is composed of the MEDIA sub-programme, helping the development and the distribution of European audiovisual works, the Culture sub-programme, which supports culture sector initiatives promoting for example cross-border cooperation or platforms for emerging artists, and the cross-sectoral strand. The objective of Creative Europe is to promote cultural diversity, encourage the circulation of European culture and creativity and strengthen the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors.

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Read more about the CCS Guarantee Facility