Belgrade, Serbia, April 21, 2020
—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is investing €18.5 million in the European Fund for Southeast Europe SA, SICAV-SIF (EFSE). The facility will be used for on-lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through banks and microfinance institutions in fourteen European and Central Asian (ECA) countries. EFSE is the largest regional debt facility financing MSMEs in the region.
IFC’s investment will increase access to finance for underserved people in the ECA region. The end-beneficiaries of this will be MSMEs and people that currently have limited, unreliable, or no access to finance.
MSMEs are engines of economic growth and important drivers of jobs in the ECA region. Access to finance remains a key barrier to their growth. Research shows that 27 percent of formal MSMEs in ECA have unmet financing needs, with the finance gap in the region estimated at around $740 billion. IFC’s investment will foster greater market competitiveness, demonstrate the viability of local-currency financing, and enable product innovation among lenders.
The investment gains special significance due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous impact on MSMEs in the region. These businesses now need urgent support to survive the downturn and preserve jobs.
IFC has been a long-standing partner to EFSE since its inception in 2005 and has supported the Fund over several projects. EFSE’s Chairperson Christoph Tiskens said, “We have been promoting financial inclusion and local currency financing in the region for 15 years. EFSE is pleased to continue working with valuable partners like IFC to generate positive impact by investing in the success of the region’s economic backbone: micro and small enterprises.”
Commenting on the investment, Vittorio Di Bello, IFC’s Regional Industry Head, said, “The project will support sustainable financial service providers that address the needs of the underserved MSME segment, including through local currency funding, while enhancing operational capacity and sustainable performances of EFSE’s investee companies. This investment will contribute to IFC’s continuing implementation of the World Bank Group’s financial inclusion strategy.”
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities where they are needed most. In fiscal year 2019, we delivered more than $19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit
An impact investment fund established in 2005, the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) aims to foster economic development and prosperity in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Neighbourhood Region by investing in the success of micro and small enterprises, as well as improved living conditions for private households. As access to financial services is key to developing this segment, EFSE focuses on helping local financial sectors strengthen their ability to provide responsible financing for this target group. Alongside its investment activities through local partners, EFSE multiplies its impact through the EFSE Development Facility, which provides technical assistance, training, and other nonfinancial support to entrepreneurs and institutions.
EFSE was initiated by KfW Development Bank with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Commission. As the first public-private partnership of its kind, EFSE draws its capital from donor agencies, international financial institutions, and private institutional investors. Finance in Motion GmbH, Germany, serves as EFSE’s advisor and Hauck & Aufhäuser Fund Services S.A., Luxembourg, acts as manager. For more information on the European Fund for Southeast Europe, please visit: