EIF #30yearsbold

European Investment Fund (EIF)
4 min readFeb 2, 2024

The EIF turns 30 this year. More than a line in the sand, this is an opportunity for us to stop for a moment and reflect. Looking back at the past thirty years, what’s the one characteristic that we’d attach to the EIF? If you had just one word, which would it be?

We’ve been active on the faultline between policy makers and the markets for three decades, translating policy considerations into financial products that make sense for small businesses. And we’ve been doing so by taking on a good degree of risk every time.

Each time we intervene, there’s a reason behind it: there’s a market failure, there’s a policy objective, there’s a sector that needs propping up. We have been bold throughout our journey, going where the markets don’t go: using securitisation when it was taboo, engaging with microfinance institutions to reach out to the underserved, embracing alternative financing models, stepping into under-developed ecosystems to kick-start venture capital activity where nobody dared to do that, and urging banks to go the extra mile so that the economy keeps ticking.

We have reached out to talk to private investors and convince them to join us in our efforts. Each and every time, taking on risk, but relying on our people’s expertise to do that in a way that makes sense for the European taxpayer, generating meaningful impact as well as returns, and ensuring that every euro we spend mobilises five on the ground.

We’ve been doing all this with one actor in mind: the entrepreneur. The SME. The small businesses that make up 99% of the European economy. And we’ve done that because, over thirty years, they are the ones that really personify bold. Bold in starting up their business, bold in innovating and in developing disruptive technologies, in adapting their business models to changing times, and in pursuing impact as much as returns. Bold in seeking financial support based on the conviction that they will be able to do better, get back on their feet and repay their loans.

They are the real champions of these past thirty years. We’ve been bold in supporting them and believing in them — more than two million of them. But they have been even bolder in their entrepreneurial undertakings, making the European economy tick and ensuring growth, jobs and a future for all of us on this continent. They are the ones who, every time they unlock the office door in the morning, drive European competitiveness. They are the ones that secure employment for our labour force and fuel the social model that makes Europe what it is today.

And of course we couldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for all our partners, who have put their faith in our team: the EIB, the European Commission, the EU Member States, our shareholders, and the long list of financial institutions that have believed in us over the years, entrusting us with more than €137bn worth of assets to manage and translate into €613bn in financing for European small businesses.

But, while we look back at thirty years, it’s also a moment to look ahead. In fact, it’s even more important to look ahead. And if we’ve learned anything from our experience across three decades, it’s that bold is the way to go. Bold has served us well and served the European economy well. Bold it is, then, going forward.

We will be venturing out into new areas, developing new products, testing and finding new, bold, solutions. Working with new sectors and industries, new types of intermediaries and new types of beneficiaries as well, going from households and individuals right up to infrastructure projects. We will be tackling new challenges and addressing new policy objectives as they emerge, from energy to gender equality, artificial intelligence to defence.

We will be working with our partners to feed back information from the markets and proactively devise solutions to address economic turbulence and bottlenecks before they become market failures, making sure Europe is at the forefront of innovation, supporting sectors of strategic importance and urging them forward. And we will continue to expand our tool set so that financial support reaches European businesses in as many ways as possible, through a variety of different channels, so that entrepreneurs have options, and they have opportunities.

The world isn’t standing still, and neither are we. We will be changing our ways, getting leaner and sharper in our interventions, digitalising, becoming more targeted, more focused, and not shying away from the challenges we face.

We will be leveraging off thirty years of partnerships and collaborations with more than 1700 funds, banks and other financial institutions and on the trust and confidence that we have so carefully built into these relationships, to make sure that we are able to steer EU taxpayers’ money into the direction of real, lasting impact.

Securing a greener, digital and inclusive future is what we are all working towards. And we know that’s no walk in the park. Ultimately, it will take a whole new level of bold to ensure a sustainable presence on this planet. That’s our goal.

Marjut Falkstedt, EIF Chief Executive



European Investment Fund (EIF)

Europe's leading provider of risk financing for SMEs. Cornerstone investor in VC and PE funds. Making debt financing more affordable for entrepreneurs. @EIF_EU