The Erste Group Bank, an Austria-based institution with 16 million clients in Central and Southeast Europe, recently completed the pilot phase of a homeownership program for members of the Roma community in Slovakia. The program begins with financial education and a savings program. Of the 100 families that enrolled, 60 completed 12 months of savings, making them eligible to apply for housing loans. Of the 46 who applied, 25 were approved to borrow funds to purchase housing plots and construction materials. The borrowers carry out the construction, creating “sweat equity.” While the program is not financially self-sufficient, Erste is looking to expand it, pending the identification of additional land that meets the program’s requirements.
Erste was founded in 1819 and operates 2,650 branches in seven countries as of 2016. It reports total assets of EUR 222 billion (USD 262 billion) as of September 2017.
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Information provided to MicroCapital by Erste Group
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