The European Investment Bank (EIB), Europe’s development finance institution, has signed an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to support entrepreneurship and innovation in agriculture outside the EU with increased investment from the private sector.
The agreement underpins EIB’s increasing focus on supporting agriculture; it recently agreed to focus more heavily on local farming initiatives and agri-food supply chains as a way of improving rural incomes in developing nations. Boosting innovation and skills and improving access to finance for smaller businesses are two of EIB’s four key priorities.
“Agriculture and agribusiness are key sectors for development impact…But they are also a primary base for local entrepreneurship, employment and growth in many countries around the world. If we can combine FAO’s local experience and know-how with our investment capabilities and technical expertise to better channel much needed finance to benefit both food supply and entrepreneurship, then why should we not do that?” said EIB’s vice-president Pim van Ballekom.
The agreement will encourage the joint analysis, planning and execution of investment operations between the two organisations by combining FAO’s agri project expertise with EIB’s access to international capital markets. It will focus initially on Eastern European countries and the member states of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).
“This is a landmark opportunity for both of us to combine technical knowledge and financial capacity to engage private and public investors in eradicating hunger,” said FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva.
The agreement coincides with plans to open offices in four more African cities including Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, later this year, Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Zambia’s Lusaka, and Maputo, Mozambique in 2016, van Ballekom told Bloomberg. Agriculture is key investment opportunity alongside energy, water and sanitation, he said.
EIB is the world’s largest lender by volume after committing €77 billion in investments last year. Lending is it’s primary business which is does mainly in sizes of up to €25 million. Information about the different investment products it issues can be found here and information on how to apply for support is here. EIB does not issue grants, but the European Commission does.
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