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Support for micro-entrepreneurs: What can banks do?

  • 01.07.2019

In 2018, 15.5% of working people between the ages of 15 and 64 in the 28 countries of the European Union were "self-employed". In Europe and all around the world, micro-entrepreneurship, driven by its promise of independence, has reached a veritable turning point. How can the big players in banking such as BNP Paribas support this phenomenon?

Micro-entrepreneurship is in full swing

In 2017, the number of micro-entrepreneurs in France leapt by 11.3% to a total 1.183 million by the end of the year. In 2018, between 24,000 and 28,000 sole-trader businesses were created each month. Although this soaring trend is touching every business sector, some are particularly booming, such as transport, IoT, virtual reality, marketing and cosmetics.

And this trend isn't just within France's borders. 

In 2018, 15.5% of working people between the ages of 15 and 64 in the 28 countries of the European Union were "self-employed". A statistic that climbs to 34% for Greece and 50% for Colombia.

The financial needs of these micro-entrepreneurs are well known: initially, their priority is to obtain small loans fast when setting up their structure. Then, in the first few years of business when the disconnect between business financing and cashflow can be huge, the challenge is to fund WCR by borrowing.

Luz in Colombia.

BNP Paribas: active, committed support

BNP Paribas is mobilising all its resources all over the world to help micro-entrepreneurs launch and develop their businesses, either directly through loans, or indirectly through partnerships. 

Financing Microfinance Institutions (MFIs)

Microcredit is a positive capital lever for micro-enterprises. By granting loans to MFIs, BNP Paribas enables them, in turn, to offer microcredit to disadvantaged communities. Thus in 2018, 358,000 people benefited from microcredit thanks to BNP Paribas. In this initiative, we support key MFIs.
  • In Italy, BNL is the principal shareholder in PerMicro. This MFI, the leading provider of financing to people with no access to credit, has brought banking services to 700 entrepreneurs and 2,700 families since 2011.
  • In Belgium, the creation of the credit agency MicroStart by BNP Paribas Fortis and Adie is enabling people without access to traditional bank financing to launch their businesses.
  • BGL BNP Paribas has an 83% stake in Microlux, the first microfinance institution in Luxembourg to operate microcredit activities and support entrepreneurs.

The Group also finances some 30 MFIs worldwide, notably in emerging countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Morocco, Senegal and Vietnam. The loans granted run from €500,000 to €10 million. 

In addition to MFI loans, we intervene via direct financing through microfinance funds such as RIF II, which invests in 22 MFIs mainly in countries where the Group has no presence.

Thanks to PerMicro, Monica, Italian, and Pedro, Venezuelan, launched "El caminante", a food-truck dedicated to gluten-free kitchens in their two countries.

Forging partnerships to encourage entrepreneurship

Although micro-entrepreneurs have a thousand faces (professional retraining, reintegration into the labour market, etc.), they all have to find ways of financing themselves. This is why we have such a wide range of partnerships, so we can meet each micro-entrepreneur on their home ground so to speak

In France, we are working with iconic players in the business sectors with the most micro-entrepreneurs. The partnership between Uber and BNP Paribas Personal Finance around a model specifically for vehicle acquisition is one illustration of that.

We have also set up a line of credit for Adie (Association for the right to Economic Initiative), which helps people distanced from the labour market to create businesses. In 2016, we developed with this Association a Social Impact Contract, to support people living in remote rural areas in their professional reintegration and business creation projects.

Promoting socially responsible savings products for clients and employees

Supporting micro-entrepreneurs also means marketing socially responsible savings products that are financing the real economy and micro-enterprises. This is why we offer our employees and clients socially responsible savings products that invest partly in MFIs.

Furthermore, through funds such as BNP Paribas Social Business France or the socially responsible Multipar range, part of the money committed, which varies depending on the investment product, is invested in businesses with a strong social impact (notably MFIs). In France, BNP Paribas Asset Management's socially responsible funds helped to finance 22,000 micro-entrepreneurs in 2017.

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