Having focussed the Marshall Plan in particular on SMEs, the Walloon Region is now launching EuroQuity, a platform putting companies in touch with private investors (www.euroquity.com).
The initiative is led by the Société wallonne de financement des PME (Sowalfin). “EuroQuity could be compared to a meeting site with the aim of putting companies and investors in touch, but we do check the reputation and respectability of those involved”, says Bernard Liebin, Director of Sowalfin.
Companies looking for funds to allow growth, or project leaders looking for money to get started, can enrol either anonymously or in the open. Investors are invited to do the same. Detailed information is required (sector, key data, projects to be funded, etc.). However, explains Christine Margrève, in charge of the Belgian platform, “this information is not enough to make a decision regarding investment. It is a teaser which allows an investor to confirm an interest before being put in touch with the company. Members of regulated professions (lawyers, auditors, chartered accountants, etc.) act as advisers”.
EuroQuity is open to all companies and project leaders, but the developers explain that SMEs and micro-businesses are the main target.
The objective is to allow 15 to 20 dossiers to be realised in the first year, with an average of 500,000 euros to 600,000 euros per dossier”, explains Jean-Pierre Di Bartolomeo, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Sowalfin. “The economy in Wallonia is a web of SMEs and 82% of them have fewer than 10 employees. As it happens, they do not have enough of their own capital to ensure growth. EuroQuity allows SMEs to add to their own capital”, says the Minister of Wallonia, Jean-Claude Marcourt (PS).
It’s free to use the site, which is financed by the Walloon Region (400,000 euros). In France, between the years 2008 and 2012, EuroQuity allowed over 230 million euros to be channelled towards a few hundred SMEs.
The idea is to also extend EuroQuity to Flanders and Brussels.
L’ECHO – 7/02/2015