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EaSI - Transaction cost support for social enterprise finance

This call for proposals is published under REGULATION (EU) No 1296/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on a European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI")1 and amending Decision No 283/2010/EU establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion.

The European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSI" 2014-20202 is a European-level financing instrument managed directly by the European Commission to contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, by providing financial support for the Union's objectives in terms of promoting a high level of quality and sustainable employment, guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, combating social exclusion and poverty and improving working conditions.

The EaSI Programme shall, in all its axes and actions, aim to:
(a) pay particular attention to vulnerable groups, such as young people;
(b) promote equality between women and men,
(c) combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
(d) promote a high-level of quality and sustainable employment, guarantee adequate and decent social protection, combat long-term unemployment and fight against poverty and social exclusion.

Hence, in designing, implementing and reporting on the activity, beneficiaries must address the issues noted above and will be required to provide detail, in the final activity report on the steps and achievements made towards addressing those aims.

Social enterprises as vehicles for job creation and social innovation
Boosting Jobs, Growth and Investment is one of the main priorities of the European Union. In its Start-up and Scale up Initiative, the Commission has in particular recognised the potential of social enterprises for innovation and their positive impact in economy and society at large. Social enterprises develop innovative approaches, models or practices for resolving societal challenges in an entrepreneurial way to promote inclusive, socially fair and environmentally sustainable economic development and social change. Their economic operations cover a broad spectrum of activities (including in particular social and economic integration of the disadvantaged and excluded, social assistance and care services of general interest, education and training, community development, reducing emissions and waste, or producing renewable energy).

However, lack of or poor access to finance is still a significant barrier for starting up a social enterprise, ensuring its sustainability and growth. Due to their size, the financing amounts that the majority of social enterprises need are relatively small: the most important financing gap in the market is between EUR 100 000 and EUR 500 000 for early-stage social enterprises.3 As the transaction costs for these relatively small tickets are comparatively high, social impact fund managers have an incentive to focus on higher amounts in order to preserve the fund's sustainability. This leads to a mismatch of needed and sustainable ticket sizes, i.e. a clear market failure

One of the objectives of EaSI is to promote employment and social inclusion by increasing access to finance for social enterprises and to develop the social enterprise finance market.

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