Micro-credit investment was identified as a key issue by EU finance ministers at a meeting in November 2000, where they discussed measures to help entrepreneurship in Europe. This is the EIF's first such investment.
The capital will come from the EU Budget and the SME Guarantee Facility created by the EU in the context of the Growth and Employment Initiative and managed by the EIF.
The Prince’s Trust will use this funding to expand one of its existing programmes which helps young people, who are unable to raise finance from other institutions, to set up their own small enterprise. The system offers support in the form of soft loans, start-up grants and post start-up support which includes business mentoring.
The EIF is a specialist EU institution for small and medium enterprises. It finances venture capital funds and implements guarantee schemes with financial institutions. The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Commission and a number of financial institutions contribute to the EIF.