Our willingness to play a part in the social growth of the communities where we operate has resulted in numerous microcredit projects and initiatives aimed at the prevention of usury, which involved us as partners of local players, Shareholders’ foundations and local Onlus associations.

Prestito della Speranza

In March 2015 the "Prestito della Speranza" has been renewed in an exclusive partnership with the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). The aim is to disburse 100 million euro of loans guaranteed by a 25 million euro CEI fund entrusted with Banca Prossima, and distributed under the joint aegis of VoBIS-Volontari Bancari per le Iniziative nel Sociale (Volunteer Bankers In Society) and the diocesan Caritas network. The new Prestito della Speranza 3.0 is not only for the needy, but sets two targeted categories which are the object of dedicated initiatives: life choice projects and entrepreneurship for the young as well as start-up businesses. The loan is structured either as a Social Loan (Credito Sociale) to families up to a maximum amount of 7,500 euro, disbursed in 6 bi-monthly instalments as an income top-up; or as a Business-builder loan (Credito fare impresa) to micro-enterprises which are either new or have a low capital base, with disbursal in one payment of a maximum of 25,000 euro.

Following the complete renewal of the agreement with the CEI, now Intesa Sanpaolo not only is the leader bank of the whole initiative, which brokered 46% of applications coming from the diocesan offices, but it is also the only bank of reference for the new applications. In 2015 Intesa Sanpaolo managed applications for a total value of about 23 million euro, granting almost 10 million euro.

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 financial dire straits or at risk of usury. The Foundation, set up by Cariplo S.p.A. in collaboration with Fondazione Cariplo and Caritas Ambrosiana, has provided the guarantees required to cover the credit granted free of charge. 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 – 600 entities have been able to gain access to Intesa Sanpaolo loans for a total of almost 9.4 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, entails 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.

Several other projects have been developed in collaboration with locally-active Foundations:

  • 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;
  • the agreement with Fondazione San Patrignano, 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 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.

In addition, also the Group Banks focus on the weaker segments of the population.

Over the years, Alexbank has developed several products dedicated to individuals who would have no access to banking to improve living and working conditions in the poorest areas of the country. This commitment has been included within the scope of a dedicated project – "Bank the Unbanked" – which provides for the development and integration of three lines of intervention for this type of customer:

  • micro-deposit, which includes the offer of new savings products at attractive rates, a dedicated debit card, and the halving of commissions on all additional services (more than 600 open accounts)
  • expansion of the microbusiness, with a network of local supporting specialists
  • creation of a mobile wallet platform.

Moreover, the offer to support small and very small businesses, available since 2008 with several dedicated branches, operating in close contact with these individuals to help them develop their business, continued.

On the whole, micro-credit activities led in 2015 to the granting of around 45.6 million euro.

In Slovenia, Banka Koper has continued in 2015 a microfinance initiative under the "European Progress Microfinance Facility programme", developed in agreement with the European Investment Fund. 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. Loans were granted for around 880 thousand euro.