“I wanted to contribute to the economic fabric of the country that had welcomed me”. This is how Riad, a refugee who arrived in the Grand-Duchy in 2013, sums up his experience. From an entrepreneur employing 27 people in his native Syria, he became a self-employed entrepreneur in Ettelbrück thanks to a loan from microlux, a microcredit institution in which the European Investment Fund acquired a EUR 500 000 stake in September.
To celebrate and officially sign this investment, microlux and the Institute organised a conference at the EIB on “Acting locally: what is the social impact in Luxembourg?”, at which micro-entrepreneurs and microlux shareholders presented their stories.
“As an immigrant you have to do more so that people accept you,” said Denisa, who came from former Yugoslavia to Luxembourg and now owns a small recycled clothing shop in Stadtbredimus. “I have hired two persons since I started my business a year ago. I am happy to work more than I did when I was employed,” added Linda, owner of “l’Atelier du Sourcil” in Luxembourg.
“They are so positive and their courage and enthusiasm is contagious” said Geoffrey Bazin, CEO of BGL BNP Paribas, one of microlux’s early shareholders. “I am proud and full of admiration,” added Marc Lauer, CEO of Foyer, an insurance company that recently decided to support microlux.
Launched in June 2016, microlux is a joint venture of BGL BNP Paribas, ADA (Association for Development Support), ADIE (French Association for the Right to Economic Initiative) and the EIF (European Investment Fund). It has so far supported 150 micro-entrepreneurs and granted 80 microcredits to borrowers who often experience difficulties accessing finance, including vulnerable communities such as refugees and other financially excluded individuals.
Microlux also offers coaching, supervision and training through a team of trained volunteers. Fifty-eight companies have thus been created, generating some 80 jobs. The President of microlux is Rémy Jacob, a former Dean of the EIB Institute.