Fejér Enterprise Agency (FEA®) was established in 1991 by 47 founders. The founders include the local government of Székesfehérvár, the General Assembly of Fejér County, several chambers, banks, enterprises and private people.
The main objectives of the Foundation are:
• to facilitate the establishment and development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in order to enhance their ability to provide employment for themselves or for others; and
• to boost economic activity.
In order to achieve its social goals, the Foundation provides its clientele with information, knowledge and money.
The mission of the Foundation is to provide high-level, easily accessible financial, advisory and training services in Hungary to start-ups and existing micro and small enterprises operating in the Transdanubian region in order to improve their skills and abilities which enable them to make their financial situation, social standing and living conditions better.
In order to fulfil its social mission and to realize the goals set by the founders, the Foundation performs concentrated business development activity, which basically focuses on the following main fields:
• Business Development Services
• Training programmes to disseminate entrepreneurial knowledge
• Microcredit programmes to finance enterprises
FEA is the lead partner of the Hungarian Microfinance Network®
The Hungarian Microfinance Network consisting of the Local Enterprise Agencies has been a member of the European Microfinance Network since 2005. The network was reorganized in 2013 and transformed into an open consortium. The lead partner of this consortium is FEA, and the President of the network is Tibor Szekfü, the Managing Director of FEA.
The purpose of the Hungarian Microfinance Network® (HMN) is to align the activities of the actors signing the consortium contract in order to promote microfinance all over the country.
The main objective is to develop and promote microfinance activity performed in order to fight poverty and impoverishment, paying special attention to introducing the good practices of foreign non-banking microfinance institutions in Hungary.
In order to realize the aims, FEA organizes international conference visits and exchange programmes, as well as provides information services.
Any person or organization that agrees with and supports the objectives of the network may join it.
Currently, the network has 22 members.
Collaboration between the Spanish and the Hungarian microfinance network
In November 2013, Jaime Manuel Duran Navarro, President of the Spanish Microfinance Network and Tibor Szekfü, President of the Hungarian Microfinance Network signed a co-operation agreement.
Under this agreement the two organizations – both members of the EMN - aim at exchanging information and learning about each other’s culture and microfinance experience hoping that it will have a positive effect on the level of services provided by the microfinance sector and its social performance. The parties intend to achieve this aim by organizing study trips and exchange visits.
Organizing a European Microfinance Summit
The series of events held in Budapest and Székesfehérvár in September 2013 were organized by FEA and hosted by the Hungarian Microfinance Network® as part of the annual programmes of EMN.
The events included the meeting of the IPFI (Interested Parties in Financial Inclusion) think-tank, which provides a consultation platform for the professionals of the microfinance networks operating in Europe, therefore it might as well be considered as a European ‘microcredit summit’.
The purpose of the meeting was to reinforce the collaboration among the various national microfinance networks and formalize it within the scope of activities of EMN, as well as to set the specific tasks and goals of the think-tank.
In addition to defining the future action plan, the think-tank also approved of some recommendations – directives – for the Hungarian decision-makers after thorough preparation and the studying of the Hungarian microfinance situation.
The document – which was signed by the participants of the meeting – draws up professional directives and recommendations with regard to regulations concerning microfinance and programme financing from public money for the Hungarian decision-makers.
Organizing an international workshop
After the IPFI think-tank an international workshop was organized with the participation of microfinance experts gathering from more than ten countries (Hungary, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Romania, Italy, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Serbia, Coratia), which was arranged in line with the annual action plan of the Legal and Regulatory Working Group of EMN.
The participants examined what kind of lessons might be learnt from the experience coming from the legal background providing a framework for Hungarian microfinance on an international level, and what kind of impact the introduction of the EU CoGC might have on the microfinance sector.
In Hungary microcrediting began in 1992 within the scope of the PHARE programme. Lending was performed by non-profit foundations via commercial banks.
On the basis of the experience gained during the programme the bank law was amended in 1998. As a result, at first one foundation, later on, in 2003, 20 more foundations were given the right to perform lending activity independently without the involvement of commercial banks.
The experts examined the impacts of the regulation and the Hungarian experience. They wanted to see whether the example could be followed by other countries and the requirements set by the CoGC could be applied by these non-profit foundations, too. They also discussed the expected effect of the introduction of the CoGC on the European microfinance sector.
The speakers of the workshop were Tibor Szekfü, President of the Hungarian Microfinance Network, Managing Director of Fejér Enterprise Agency, András Nagy, Managing Director of Enterprise Promotion Agency for Zala County, Dr. Antal Szabó, Scientific Director of ERENET, retired advisor for the UN; Pal Vik, researcher of the University of Salford in Manchester, one of the developers of the EU CoGC, as well as Dr. Györgyi Nyikos, Docent of the National University of Public Service, former deputy under-secretary of state for development policy.
Visit of the Legal and Regulatory Working Group of EMN
The members of the Legal and Regulatory Working Group of EMN paid Fejér Enterprise Agency, the lead partner of the Hungarian Microfinance Network, a visit in Székesfehérvár. During the visit the lending procedure based on the prize-winning Credinfo Loan Assessment Management system developed by Hungarians was demonstrated to the participants.
Legal and Regulatory Working Group of EMN
As a Core Member of the Legal and Regulatory Working Group of the European Microfinance Network we participated in a European Union-wide international research and the development of a study related to it, which introduces the microfinance sector and its legal regulation in different European countries. The case study presenting Hungary was prepared by FEA.
Participating as an expert within the framework of the INTERREG IVC programme, DIFASS project
The aim of the project financed by the European Union is to promote the good financing practices in the European Union and to share the experience among the partner organisations participating in the project. The online loan assessment management system used by the Foundation and developed by CREDINFO Ltd and the financing practice based on this innovative technology had already earned an international reputation for the Foundation. The Managing Director was asked to present the microfinancing practice of the Foundation during an international seminar organized within the framework of the project. During the programme 60 European practices were examined by a group of professionals. Out of the 60 practices two were selected to be adapted on an international level, one of which was the CREDINFO Credit Information and Loan Assessment Management System used by FEA and the microfinance practice based thereon. The expert of FEA provides professional help and training in the adaptation work carried out in Spain and Italy.
Fejér Enterprise Agency has joined the International SMART CAMPAIGN and accepted the client protection principles declared in the programme.
Analysis of the social outreach of microcredit activity of the local non-profit enterprise agencies in Hungary
The European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision document, approved by the European Commission sets common standards for non-profit microcredit institutions on social reporting and disclosing the social mission.
Respectively, most of the local enterprise agencies (LEAs) in Hungary have formulated their social goals and social target groups. The aim of this study, developed in the framework of the DIFASS project, is to measure the social outreach of microcredit activity of some LEAs in Hungary. The study includes the analysis of a survey conducted among 573 entrepreneurs during Spring 2014, in the clientele of two LEAs (of Fejér and Zala counties).
The main findings of the survey:
• Three-quarters (75.5%) of the people interviewed said that their living conditions improved as a result of the micro credit scheme of the LEA (within this 48% said that their living conditions improved significantly). Thus, it can be said that – on the basis of the subjective evaluation of the entrepreneurs – the micro credit scheme is capable of improving the living conditions of the participating entrepreneurs and their families considerably and facilitating their personal wealth.
• The underlined target groups – women, young people and people living in small villages – reported on a larger scale on the improvement of their living conditions as a result of the micro credit scheme. Thus, the outreach of the target group of the LEAs is achieved. Further on, the proportion of the target groups must be increased in the customer base.
• The enterprises participating in the survey are very small considering their number of employees. They operate with 3.25 people on average. Every third entrepreneur employs maximum one person. Thus, to a large extent micro enterprises, which probably can receive banking services to a lesser degree, compose the customer base of the LEAs.
• The micro and small enterprises participating in the survey are capable of developing: in the past two years 65.6% of them have implemented a new investment, and the proportion of enterprises planning to purchase additional assets and implement further investments in the future is also very high. Due to the size of the companies, presumably only micro credit is able to contribute efficiently to realizing their plans concerning growth, and we can also assume that these projects would not be realized without the micro credit.
• The role of micro credit is significant in maintaining and increasing the employment level among micro and small enterprises. In the survey, in 319 cases micro credit contributed to retaining existing jobs, and in 245 cases (43.4% of the respondents) it contributed to the generation of new jobs. The project is implemented through the INTERREG IVC Programme, co-financed by the ERDF:
Businesses employing new people created 1.87 jobs on average. Thus, the employment potential of small enterprises cannot be neglected.
• The satisfaction indicator relating to the services and work of the LEAs is very high; 90.8% of the clients said that they were satisfied with it (63.5% of them were completely satisfied, whereas 27.3% were rather satisfied).
Fulfilment of the social mission – social outreach
In line with the requirements of the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision FEA prepared its Social Outreach Plan and the related annual work plan.
The purpose of the Social Outreach Plan is to assess the social performance of the Foundation and the implementation level of the mission, as well as to provide regular and comparable inputs for the management and the founders about the social performance of FEA.
The Social Outreach Plan defines the social goals and objectives derived from the mission, and provides methodology for the measurement thereof. The indicators serving the purpose of measuring the goals meet the general requirements: they are SMART, i.e. Special, Measurable, Accessible, Relevant and Time-bound.
When compiling the Social Outreach Plan, the following European documents relating to the measurement of social performance of microfinance organizations were considered:
- Putting the ‘social’ into performance management: A practice-based guide for microfinance. By Anita Campion & Chris Linder with Katherine E. Knotts (Institute of Development Studies 2008)
- Annual Reports of the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX)
- The documents received during the 2-day course held by the Microfinance Centre on Social Performance Measurement (SPM)
- The documents of the MIX Social Performance Task Force (www.sptf.info)
Social outreach of the services provided by FEA
According to the recommedations of the European Union concerning microfinance institutions, FEA also started to measure the social performance of its activities in 2013.
„FEA wishes to achieve the following results with its activities in the social field:
• to contribute to the sustainable development of the clients, their families and communities (improve their financial situation and abilities)
• to promote gender equality
• to promote entrepreneurship among career - starters
•to find out and meet the needs and capacities of the targeted clients better in order to improve entrepreneurial wealth”
Quoted from the Social Outreach Plan of Fejér Enterprise Agency issued in 2012
In order to measure the achievement of the above- mentioned social goals a survey was conducted among 410 clients in 2014. The most important findings of the survey are as follows:
74.8% of the clients interviewed reported that the credit programmes of FEA improved their living conditions.
Approximately three - quarters of the clients thought that their living conditions improved as a result of the credit granted by FEA. With this the main goal – the promotion of the wealth of the entrepreneurs and their families – expressed in the mission statement had been achieved.
In 2011 the Foundation won the INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION IN MICROFINANCE EUROPE AWARD in the category of Innovative Use of Technology. The category winners were announced in London at an international conference.
The aim of the award presented in London was to recognize individuals and organizations that were committed to innovation and development and had demonstrated vision in delivering financial services to those at the bootom of the pyramid.
As microfinance continues to transform, the purpose of the award was to showcase best practices to the microfinance community. At this prestigious international event the microfinance community came together to recognize those who had contributed to the development of the sector with innovative and original work.
Earlier the microcrediting practice of FEA® was included among the five best practices at the MICROFINANCE GOOD PRACTICES ‘EUROPE AWARD’ 2009 announced in Milan by the Giordano dell’Amore Foundation and the European Microfinance Network in the field of Innovations and Sustainability.