Our willingness to play a part in the social growth of the communities where we operate has resulted in numerous microfinance projects and initiatives aimed at the prevention of usury, involving us as partners of local players, shareholders’ foundations and local Onlus associations.
Il Prestito della Speranza
In 2010 the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) launched the first national microfinance project targeting households, offering income support, as well as targeting companies for the start-up or relaunch of business. The initiative was promoted by the Italian Banking Association and involved 54 banks. The CEI assigned Banca Prossima the task of managing the 30 million euro guarantee fund. At the request of the CEI we managed development of the project by training 127 dedicated branches and the setup of a voluntary workers’ association - VOBIS - operating at national level and made up of 250 retired colleagues. This association examines the loan applications, interviews households and reduces the workload for the branches.
The banking groups committed to 2 forms of credit: Social Microfinance targeting households that are particularly economically or socially vulnerable, and Business Microfinance for individuals, partnerships or cooperatives wishing to start up or performance freelance or microbusiness activities.
Intesa Sanpaolo is now the initiative’s leading bank and has managed 46% of the applications originating from desks of the diocese. In 2014 Intesa Sanpaolo granted almost 2.4 million euro to 315 applicants.
Other significant initiatives include Intesa Sanpaolo’s participation as partner to Fondazione Lombarda Antiusura and Fondazione Welfare Ambrosiano.
Fondazione Lombarda Antiusura has been operating since 1997 to defend individuals or small businesses in dire financial straits or at risk of usury. The Foundation, set up by Cariplo S.p.A. in collaboration with Fondazione Cariplo and Caritas, has provided free of charge the guarantees required to cover the credit granted. The selection of the applications takes place through sector experts, employees or retired members of the Group, who act as a listening and guidance centre in identifying the financing solutions required to remedy critical situations. Thanks to the work of the Foundation – acting as guarantor or to cover interest – 580 entities have been able to gain access to Intesa Sanpaolo loans for a total of almost 9.2 million euro since it was set up.
Fondazione Welfare Ambrosiano, an entity financed by the Municipality of Milan, which also involves the participation of Fondazione Lombarda Antiusura, envisages microfinance initiatives both of a “social” nature to provide income support to households in temporary difficulties and of a business nature, for the creation of micro and small enterprises. The catchment area is essentially the Milan area. Intesa Sanpaolo is one of the four financial partners involved: since the initiative was launched approximately 1.2 million euro has been granted to 215 applicants.
Other two projects, launched in 2011, cover the Piedmont and Lombardy areas in particular:
- the “Microcredito per il lavoro”, in collaboration with Fondazione Lombarda Antiusura Onlus, is aimed at Italian and foreign individual and family businesses located in the Lombardy Region; the loans are backed by the guarantee of a fund set up by the Foundation which accounts for 90% of the loan granted;
- the “Finanziamento a valere sul Fondo Regionale di garanzia per il Microcredito – Regione Piemonte assistito da garanzia FINPIEMONTE”, dedicated to newly set-up small businesses and self-employed workers with operational headquarters in Piedmont, for the business start-up phase. The loans are backed by a guarantee of 80% of the capital issued; this guarantee is released by the regional investment company.
Major initiatives were launched during the year:
- the agreement with Fondazione San Patrignano, launched in May 2013, which entails microfinance activities for the integration of the San Patrignano Community youth in the job market. Thanks to a guarantee fund of 250,000 euro established by Fondazione San Patrignano and assigned to Banca Prossima, Intesa Sanpaolo has allocated a maximum of 750,000 euro to grant loans in favour of residents of the Community who wish to start up businesses. The project entails a training stage with the support of Bocconi University and guidance through the first business experience with the 250 “Credit Angels” of the Vobis association.
- Fondo Famiglia Lavoro of the Archdiocese of Milan envisages the start-up of microfinancing activities that increase existing opportunities to provide support to business activities through action by Fondazione San Bernardino and based on specific agreements with the participating banks. The activities envisaged by the Fondo Famiglia Lavoro also include a special focus on households that have lost their main source of employment income (due to dismissal or redundancy) or self-employment income (due to business closure or suspension), but which still have a form of income, albeit modest, from at least one of the other household members. Fondazione San Bernardino, the guarantee fund manager on behalf of the Diocese, arranges assessment of the applications and grants them access to the guarantee fund, allowing Intesa Sanpaolo to issue loans at favourable terms. Numerous projects were also launched by our International Subsidiary Banks.
In Egypt, microfinance activities have been developed since 2008, both for loans to individuals with no access to banks and for the development of small businesses. In 2014 a total of 31.6 million euro was granted (25 million euro in 2013).
Already since 2013, Alexbank’s commitment has been included within the scope of a dedicated project - “Bank the Unbanked” – with a view to increasing penetration and diversifying the offer in terms of products (introduction of savings methods, cards, insurance products) and channels (mobile banking).
In 2014, Banka Koper in Slovenia also launched a microfinance initiative, signing an agreement with the European Investment Fund offering arrangements to provide guarantees under the “European Progress Microfinance Facility Programme”. The aim of the loan is to facilitate access to credit for individuals who would otherwise have no access to banking (start-ups, young self-employed, social enterprises, women business owners, etc.) to combat social exclusion. Over 975.000 euro was granted in 2014.
Overall, the numerous microfinance and anti-usury initiatives in Italy and abroad resulted in the granting of more than 40.4 million euro.
In 2014, the Intesa Sanpaolo Group issued loans for high social impact activities amounting to over 3.6 billion euro (12.9% of the total loans granted), helping to create business and employment opportunities as well as to assist people in difficult situations in several ways: microfinance; anti-usury loans; loans to the Public Administration to develop socially useful services and activities; credit facilities granted to small and medium enterprises belonging to CONFIDI (consortia or cooperatives for collective credit guarantee); products and services addressed to Third Sector associations and entities; products dedicated to the most vulnerable social groups to support their financial inclusion.
Initiatives with high social impact [%]