EaSI Technical Assistance (EaSI TA) is a part of the first axis of the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Programme which is an EU level financing instrument, funded by the European Commission. Its third axis aims to increase the availability and accessibility of microfinance for vulnerable groups and micro enterprises, build up the institutional capacity of microcredit providers and increase access to finance for social enterprises.
Known in the previous programming period, 2007 – 2013, as Joint Action to Support Microfinance Institutions in Europe (JASMINE), EaSI Technical Assistance involves a range of support activities for European microcredit providers. Now accessible under the umbrella of fi-compass EaSI Technical Assistance1, this support service will help to build up the institutional capacity of microcredit providers thanks to various forms of assistance including business development tools for the wider European microcredit sector.
EaSI TA is funded by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB) supported by fi-compass under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and under the EaSI Programme.
It is the only Technical Assistance programme for Microcredit providers covering the entire European Union and it is free of charge.
EaSI Technical Assistance (EaSI TA) offers three strands of support:
a. An Institutional Assessment (“Assessment”) or Microfinance Institutional Rating (“Rating”) carried by an independent specialised service provider and supplemented by an assessment or rating report. This is complemented by tailored trainings to the staff and management in line with the main findings of the Assessment or Rating Report (“Capacity Building”).
Accessible for selected beneficiaries only.
b. Advice to microcredit providers regarding the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision by way of training and evaluation of its implementation.
Accessible for all European microcredit providers that sign up to the Code.
c. Access to market development services such as workshops and seminars on microfinance related topics, and a helpdesk to lodge information requests on microfinance in Europe, in order to promote the spread of best practices and improve the visibility of microfinance in Europe.
Accessible for individuals, microenterprises or organisations interested in microfinance in Europe.
The EaSI TA aims at European Microcredit Providers to gain access to the expertise of microfinance specialists on organizational and qualitative aspects of the institution and increase the understanding of the main internal weaknesses and external threats jointly with the existing opportunities for the Microcredit provider.
The EaSI Technical Assistance Programme is designed to be synergetic with the EaSI Financial Instruments (e.g. the EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument) managed and implemented by the European Investment Fund (EIF) and will be available on an ongoing basis for the whole programming period.
After a call for tender procedure, fi-compass sub-contracted the provision of the services described to two different consortia.
Frankfurt School of Finance & Management is leading the partnership with the Microfinance Centre (MFC) and the European Microfinance Network (EMN) to provide technical assistance to microcredit providers and disseminate best practices. MicroFinanza Rating is leading the partnership with Planet Rating and Ecorys to provide rating or assessments to microcredit providers and evaluate their compliance with the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision.
The overall objective of the Project states:
The Provision of operational technical assistance (TA) for EU microcredit providers for helping these operators to improve the quality of their operations, to scale up and maximise the impact of microcredit products on microenterprises development, and to become sustainable and viable operators on commercial terms and to enable horizontal TA for the wider European microcredit sector to disseminate information and best practices.
The selection of beneficiaries is done through calls for expression of interest. The selection aims at:
Greenfield MFIs with less than two years of existence wish to clearly identify their strengths/weaknesses and single out areas for improvement, in order to enhance their institutional strength;
Non-bank microcredit providers with at least two years of existence willing to increase the quality of their operations and access new sources of funds by improving their operational and risk management performances;
Licensed banks offering microcredit products that were never rated by specialised microfinance rating agencies wishing to have a comprehensive assessment of their risk profile and social impact as well as to increase their international visibility.
All microcredit providers in the 28 member states of the European Union (EU), as well as those in Albania, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, are eligible.
Dedicated calls for expression of interest to request technical assistance are launched regularly by the EIB. fi-compass will select interested microcredit providers from those who respond to the call. To apply, microcredit providers must sign up to the European Code of Good Conduct, a European-wide initiative to promote best practices within the sector.
1 fi-compass is a unique platform for advisory services on financial instruments under the European Structural and Investment funds (ESIF) and microfinance under the Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).