A desire to play a part in the social growth of communities where it operates has led Intesa Sanpaolo to work with shareholder foundations and local charity organisations in numerous micro-credit projects and initiatives targeting the prevention of usury, with around 76 million euro disbursed in 2016.

Prestito della Speranza

Since 2010, the Group has been involved in the “Prestito della Speranza” (Loan for Hope) initiative promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference with ABI to support families temporarily in difficulty and businesses and to create micro and small businesses.

The initiative was renewed in 2015 in an exclusive partnership with the Italian Episcopal Conference, with the aim of disbursing 100 million euro of loans guaranteed by a 25 million euro CEI fund entrusted with Banca Prossima, through the Caritas charity network and under the aegis of VoBIS-Volontari Bancari per le Iniziative nel Sociale (the volunteer association of former bank employees that operate throughout Italy for social solidarity initiatives).

The new Prestito della Speranza 3.0 programme has two specific goals, with dedicated initiatives: life choice projects and entrepreneurship for the young as well as start-up businesses. The loan is structured either as a Social Loan (Credito Sociale) for families up to a maximum amount of 7,500 euro, disbursed in 6 bi-monthly instalments of 1,250 euro as an income top-up; or as a Business-builder loan (Credito fare impresa) to micro-enterprises which are either new or have a low capital base, with disbursement in one payment of a maximum of 25,000 euro.

Following the complete revision of the agreement with the Italian Episcopal Conference, Intesa Sanpaolo is the only Bank to which new applications are made. Since March 2015, Intesa Sanpaolo has assessed over 5,000 applications for around 41 million euro, granting loans of approximately 26 million for over 3,400 applications.

Other partnerships

The system of a guarantee fund through Banca Prossima offered by an organisation, which is usually a charity or religious organisation, associated with an agreement with Intesa Sanpaolo for loans to private customers or small businesses in difficulty, was replicated with a number of parties. Significant initiatives include Intesa Sanpaolo’s involvement as partner to Fondazione Lombarda Antiusura and Fondazione Welfare Ambrosiano.

Fondazione Lombarda Antiusura has been operating since 1997 to defend individuals or small businesses in financial dire straits or at risk of usury. The Foundation, set up by Cariplo S.p.A. in collaboration with Fondazione Cariplo and Caritas Ambrosiana, has provided the guarantees required to cover the credit granted free of charge. The selection of the applications takes place through sector experts, employees or retired members of the Group, who act as a listening and guidance centre in identifying the financing solutions required to remedy critical situations. Thanks to the work of the Foundation – acting as guarantor or to cover interest – over 600 entities have been able to gain access to Intesa Sanpaolo loans for a total of almost 10.2 million euro since it was set up.

Fondazione Welfare Ambrosiano, an entity financed by the Municipality of Milan, which also involves the participation of Fondazione Lombarda Antiusura, entails micro-finance initiatives both of a “social” nature, to provide income support for households, and of a business nature, for the creation of micro and small enterprises. Users are mainly in the Milan area and Intesa Sanpaolo is one of four financial partners involved. Since the start of activities in 2011, a total of 3.4 million euro has been disbursed (two thirds as social funding and one third as business loans), with approximately 60% from Intesa Sanpaolo, above all referring to social funding.
Fondazione Welfare Ambrosiano is one of Intesa Sanpaolo's partners in the “Anticipazione Sociale” initiative.

In July 2016, an agreement was signed by Banca Prossima, Banco di Napoli and Finetica Onlus, which manages a guarantee fund for social micro-credit activities (2-15 thousand euro per loan) and business loans (up to 25,000 euro). Banco di Napoli disburses the loans.

In October, an agreement was entered into with the Cesare Pozzo mutual aid cooperative, that deposited a guarantee fund – currently comprising 3 million euro, but which will increase – with Banca Prossima. Members of the cooperative may ask apply for a loan from any Intesa Sanpaolo Group bank for family expenses (such as health or school expenses) at very favourable conditions.

Another, recent project concerns the NEETwork agreement signed in October. This is an agreement relative to the Young Peoples' Social Fund “Garanzia Giovani”, which provides additional contributions for non-profit organisations that employ NEET (young people who are not in education, employment or training) with a fixed-term contract. The aim of the agreement is to ensure that the process for paying apprenticeships is streamlined and made easier by Banca Prossima, that finances 100% of total payments to apprentices (the monthly amount is 400 euro, of which 100 paid by the organisation, 100 by Fondazione Cariplo and 200 by the Lombardy Region).

A partnership has also been ongoing with Fondazione Cariplo for Funder35 – a number of initiatives taken by foundations to identify, in an annual tender, the best projects presented by cultural organisations established by the under 35s, giving them a chance to grow and develop through non-returnable funding and assistance. The Bank helps finance the winning organisations and if necessary advances contributions.

Several other projects have been developed in collaboration with locally active Foundations.

These include:

  • the “Finanziamento a valere sul Fondo Regionale di garanzia per il Microcredito – Regione Piemonte assistito da garanzia FINPIEMONTE”, dedicated to newly set-up small businesses and self-employed workers with operational headquarters in Piedmont, for the business start-up phase;
  • the agreement with Fondazione San Patrignano, which entails micro-finance activities for the integration of the San Patrignano Community youth in the job market. The project includes a training stage with the support of Bocconi University and guidance through the first business experience with 250 “Credit Angels” from the VoBIS association.


Alexbank, as part of the “Bank the Unbanked”, project, has developed various products over the years for people without access to banking facilities, to improve living and working conditions even in the poorest areas of the country, incorporating them in a single project that includes:

  • micro-loans for various customer needs and for setting up small businesses. At the end of 2016, nearly 54 thousand customers had access to the loans for approximately 38 million euro.
  • micro-deposits at special rates to encourage a culture of saving (over 700 accounts opened for total deposits amounting to nearly 177 thousand euro).

A platform for smart phones (MA7FAZTY Mobile wallet) is also offered, for simple and safe shared banking transactions.