On 13 October 2015 the European Commission approved the Operational Programme „Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) Initiative“ 2014-2020 (OP SMEI). It is developed in accordance with the implementation of the SME Initiative in Europe. Bulgaria is the third country in the EU which will provide resources for SMEs through the instrument. It is currently being implemented in Spain and Malta.
Managing Authority of the Operational Programme is Directorate General "European Funds for Competitiveness" at the Ministry of Economy. The budget of the new Operational Programme amounts to € 102 mln., wholly from the EU under the European Regional Development Fund, since it does not require national co-financing. The funds are allocated from the Priority Axis 2 of OP "Innovation and Competitiveness" 2014-2020, provided for the implementation of financial instruments. The portfolios of loans, except by the means of the Operational Programme, will be also guaranteed with funds from COSME / HORIZON 2020, as well as with resources of the European Investment Fund and the European Investment Bank.
Under the SME Initiative in Bulgaria one guarantee product is envisaged to be implemented. The product includes unlimited guarantees for providing capital advantage to financial intermediaries for new portfolios of debt financing of eligible SMEs, which will be implemented under more favorable conditions in comparison to the implemented under the OP “Development of the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy” similar product.
SME Initiative is a joint programme of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank for financial instruments for SMEs during programming period 2014-2020, which main objective is a rapid increase in the crediting of SMEs at EU level for achieving a significant impact on the promotion of SME financing, economic growth and job creation and strengthening the contribution of the European structural and investment funds (ESIF) to the instruments at EU level.