– It is a great pleasure to be in Poland. I have never been to Katowice before. I am here to represent The European Association of Guarantee Societies which is an international organisation representing the different guarantee schemes across Europe, also in countries outside the EU like Russia, Turkey or Montenegro – says José Fernando Figueiredo, president of Sociedade de Investimento S.A., as well as of AECM, the European Association of Guarantee Institutions, which members have guarantees to around 3 million SME in Europe. There are two Polish Guarantee Members in this association, BGK and the National Regional Guarantee Funds Association. The association is basically an entity that helps small and middle businesses to get access to credit funding.
So, when you launch a project, develop a company or make an investment you need money from the bank. If they do not lend them to you, you can go to AECM and one of AECM members (in each country) can guarantee you a loan. Its members are mutual, private sector guarantee schemes as well as public institutions, which are either guarantee funds or Development banks with a guarantee division. – We are serving more than 3 million small and middle companies across Europe. Our member has guarantees from 5 000 Euro to 5 billion Euro – says Figueiredo who is originally Portuguese, from Porto, but he travels all around the word. Privatelly he is a big supporter of FC Porto, football team with a long tradition of having Polish players. – There are different legal structures and different cultural approaches to business. We can observe not only in Europe, but also around the word, from Japan to the States, from Poland to Portugal, that small and middle businesses need credits. They need IT solutions, facilitations, coaching, etc., but first of all they need financing. So, we have solutions for them. Not exactly the same because in some countries legal structures are different, but in all that places the concept is the same – AECM guarantees credits for SME companies – he adds more detailed knowing the picture form his own experience as a wine producer.
Entrepreneurs have different approaches to life as the south of Europe is different from the north, but everywhere an entrepreneur transforms ideas into business so he creates wealth to be distributed. AECM has 38 member organizations operating in 20 EU countries, Montenegro, Russia and Turkey. They all have in common the mission of providing loan guarantees for SME who have an economically sound project but cannot provide sufficient bankable collateral.
Finally, he left a special word to Poland, a country he really loves and where he has many friends. – Polish people and Poland as a country will definitely play a major role in Europe in the years to come – concludes José Fernando Figueiredo.
Maya M. Kowalczyk