Community SMEs in Italy providing a space for freedom and security
As the curtain draws on 2014, the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is coming to an end. During the past six months, the Presidency has placed special emphasis on the creation of favourable conditions to secure growth and employment in the real economy. And Italy, as a country, is no stranger to the muscle that small and medium-sized enterprises wield when it comes to economic development and job creation.
At the end of 2013 Italy boasted over 3.7 million SMEs, well above the EU average. Of these almost 95%, over 3.5 million, were in fact micro-enterprises employing fewer than 10 employees. These figures confirm the essential role of SMEs in the Italian economy in which the EIB continues to be a key player. In 2013 the Bank dedicated loans of EUR 3.4bn to empower this important economic sector and the figure is set to rise in 2014.
SMEs bringing strength in Emilia-Romagna
Borghi Imballaggi Srl has been active for some 40 years in the sector of corrugated cardboard packaging. As with many other businesses in the Emilia-Romagna region it was shaken by the 2012 earthquake. But Borghi was determined to contribute to the recovery by prioritising innovation and growth to rebuild the community. Our partner bank in the region, the Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna, provided Borghi with a EUR 550 000 loan for a state-of-the-art third production line. The impact on the company has been significant. Three new workers have been hired, and Borghi Imballaggi has been able to purchase a new building to replace properties damaged by the earthquake.
And Borghi is not alone in promoting social cohesion in the Emilia-Romagna region in the push for economic recovery following the 2012 natural disaster. Il Raccolto soc. coop. Agricola, an agricultural enterprise, produces products such as grain, barley, corn, sorghum, soya and sunflowers. Seeing the need to increase the fertility of the soil and sustain a cost-effective yield to improve the profitability of the business, the enterprise also received a EUR 400 000 loan via EIB partner bank Banca Popolare dell’Emilia Romagna. The investment has been used to implement an innovative fertigation system, ensuring high production while limiting the use of chemical fertilisers to reduce the effects of climate change and enabling additional employment opportunities.
A source of local prideCommunity spirit remains a source of strength for all of Italian society, as does pride in ownership. Another cooperative in southern Italy, in Naples, was able to enjoy the favourable conditions of EIB lending to the general benefit of society. Napoli Integrazione is a cooperative that provides social care in Naples and its surrounding province. Napoli Integrazione forms part of ANFFAS – the national association for families of people with intellectual and/or relationship disabilities. The EIB’s partner bank Banca Prossima granted Napoli Integrazione a loan of EUR 1.5m, of which 50% covered by EIB funds. The loan has allowed the cooperative to take over ownership of the Santa Maria Delle Grazie property in the municipality of Cicciano, where it now operates a well-equipped residential health care facility.
Banca Prossima also helped the EIB to put child healthcare at the top of the priority list in Monza. The Maria Letizia Verga Committee aims to provide the best medical care and psychological support to children with leukaemia, as well as their families, whilst they are being treated at the Paediatric Clinic of the San Gerardo Hospital in Monza. The Committee became aware of the hospital’s lack of capacity to provide adequate care in terms of both patient treatment and research into a cure. Faced with an investment of EUR 10m, the Committee turned to the EIB’s partner bank Banca Prossima, which granted a EUR 5m long-term loan. The new wing will be completed in early 2016, offering hope for both patients and families dealing with leukaemia.
Rewriting the SME story
EIB lending is going some part of the way to promoting economic recovery in Italy and our efforts across all sectors of the SME community will continue in the years to come.