The European Investment Bank (EIB) announces a EUR 60 million loan to Banque du Développement des PME (BDPME) via its subsidiary CEPME (Crédit d'Equipement des PME) for funding fledgling micro-enterprises in France. The EIB, the European Union's financing institution, will thereby be contributing to the Business Start-up Loans (PCEs) programme launched by the French public authorities, which is managed by BDPME and the banking network in association with the aid and support structures in this field.

The loan contract for a first tranche of EUR 30 million was signed on 10 September 2004 in Paris by the Chairman of BDPME's Management Board, Mr Jean-Pierre Denis, and EIB Vice-President Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, who at the meeting expressed his satisfaction at the EIB's involvement in this operation to support a sector that is particularly promising in terms of employment: micro-enterprises, which, during their start-up phase, often encounter difficulty in rounding off their finance plans. Such firms are difficult for the EIB to reach because of the very limited size of their projects and the fact that there are few specialised intermediaries in the market. The EIB is thus supporting the PCEs programme, which aims to encourage the establishment of businesses by financing expenditure such as physical investment, but also intangible investment such as working capital, start-up costs and the purchase of goodwill.

Business Start-up Loans (PCEs) - launched in 2000 at the Enterprise Creation Forum - are a financing product for the initiators of small-scale projects (costing less than EUR 45 000) and take the form of five-year loans of between EUR 2 000 and EUR 7 000, which do not require a guarantee or personal security from the head of the business but have to be accompanied by a bank loan of between two and three times the PCE. The PCE operation is backed by public guarantee funds (for details of PCEs, go to

Since it was set up, CEPME has provided PCE finance amounting to approximately EUR 290 million as at mid-2004 to some 45 500 micro-enterprises, thereby contributing to the creation of more than 51 000 jobs. These fledgling projects represent a total investment of more than EUR 1 077 million and are located throughout France.