SME News March 2017

SME NEWS / March 2017 7 NEWS , A State Guarantee agreement between the EIB and the Re- public of Cyprus was also signed. “I am very pleased to be in Nicosia to extend the European Investment Bank’s credit line to Hellenic Bank to further support local SMEs and Midcaps, which are the backbone of the Cypriot economy,” said Eu- ropean Investment Bank Presi- dent Werner Hoyer. This loan with Hellenic Bank is the third, bringing the total signed with Hellenic Bank to €100 million, and builds on a scheme which the EIB with Ministry of Finance start- ed implementing in Cyprus with local banks two years ago. To support smaller size enterpris- es with investment needs of up to €25 million, EIB has partnered with 10 local banks and has so far signed a total of €615 million, with about €220 million of that money already benefiting some 240 new investments. “The EIB is firmly committed to supporting SMEs and their invest- ment plans. The EIB cannot direct- ly finance such investments but can do so through partnerships with financial institutions. These institutions have relationships with local businesses and can act as intermediaries for EIB financing. The EIB loan signed with Hellen- ic Bank will further support pri- vate sector investment crucial for boosting economic growth and creating new jobs. Hellenic Bank has been a very reliable partner for the EIB and I would like to thank the management of the Bank for its collaboration,” added EIB President Hoyer. Irena Georgiadou, Chairwoman of Hellenic Bank, stated: “Our role is for the decisive contribution to the recovery of the Cyprus economy and this will only happen through the financing of growth and the support of healthy businesses.” The Hellenic Bank loan includes dedicated lending under the ’Jobs for Youth’ programme, which of- fers even more favourable finan- cial terms to eligible SMEs. The Jobs for Youth lending initiative, As part of the min- isterial country-wide engagement tour, Margot James hosted a roundtable event at Stockton Council to find out direct- ly from business how the Industri- al Strategy can support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In its green paper, ‘Building our In- dustrial Strategy’, the government outlines 10 key pillars of focus to be discussed as part of a 12-week consultation, inviting contributions from industry, businesses, commu- nity groups and workers across the North East and the rest of the UK. The government’s commitment to create an economy that works for everyone and Margot James urged employers at the event to take se- riously their responsibilities to cre- ate diverse and inclusive workplac- es, giving everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential. Business Minister Margot James said: “Diversity and inclusion are key to the UK economy maximis- ing its potential. Through our mod- ern Industrial Strategy and invest- ment in the Northern Powerhouse, we are building an economy that works for everyone and I enjoyed talking to employers in the North East about how we can work to- gether to build on the regions strengths, raise living standards and create new, well-paid jobs in other industries and sectors.” The roundtable follows the pub- lication of the Baroness McGre- gor-Smith review on black and minority ethnic (BME) labour mar- ket progression, which found the economy could receive a £24bn- a-year boost if people from ethnic minority backgrounds progressed in work at the same rate as their white counterparts. As part of the government’s re- sponse to the findings, Margot James announced she will chair the new Business Diversity and Inclusion Group. It will bring to- gether business leaders and or- ganisations to coordinate action to remove barriers in the work- place and monitor employers’ progress. The group will meet every quarter at the Department for Business, Energy and Indus- trial Strategy and will also bring together the leaders of three in- dustry-led diversity reviews: • Baroness McGregor-Smith; • Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Helen Alexander, who are leading a review aimed at in- creasing female leadership in FTSE companies and; • Sir John Parker, who concludes a consultation on recommen- dations to increase BME rep- resentation in the boardroom, to participate in the group. The government has issued an open invitation to all industries, businesses, workers and local groups in the North East to visit the GOV.UK website and help set the priorities for a modern Indus- trial Strategy. The consultation is open until 17 April, after which the government will consider responses before publishing a white paper later in the year. Business Minister Hosts Diversity and the Industrial Strategy Roundtable launched by the EIB in July 2013, is part of a wider European com- mitment to tackle youth unem- ployment requested by the Euro- pean Council in June 2013. The scheme targets countries with high unemployment amongst young people. To benefit from financing under the ’Jobs for Youth’ window, SMEs in the fields of industry, com- mercial services and tourism need to fulfil a limited number of condi- tions, including the employment or training of young people. The finance agreement and State Guarantee were signed in Nicosia in a public ceremony attended by EIB President Werner Hoyer, Per- manent Secretary of Cyprus Min- istry of Finance Christos Patsali- des and Chairwoman of Hellenic Bank Irena Georgiadou. Earlier in the day, European In- vestment Bank President Wer- ner Hoyer met with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia and discussed bilateral issues, as well as eco- nomic and political developments. This EIB loan to Hellenic Bank follows a similar €100 million loan to support investments by local SMEs and MidCaps signed with Bank of Cyprus in February. In 2016, the EIB Group maintained its high level of activity in Cyprus, providing a total of €240 million to the local economy as follows: • €175 million to support private sector investments imple- mented by small and medium sized enterprises; • €40 million for a water pipeline to pump drinking water from the Vasilikos desalination plant to the Greater Western Nicosia Region; • €15 million for the construction of two anti-flooding rain water stations in Larnaca and; • €10 million by the Europe- an Investment Fund, which is part of the EIB Group, for the guarantee of new invest- ments born by innovative companies. This was the first operation in Cyprus backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments. Employers, community groups and small business owners fromacross the North East earlier this monthmet the UK’s Business MinisterMargot James to discuss how diversity and inclusion can strengthen the government’s Industrial Strategy.