Created in 2001, FEBEA (the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks)is an association under Belgian law based in Brussels. Open to member countries of the European Union as well as applicant countries, it gathers financial institutions whose aim is to finance social and solidarity-based economy, acting as a place for exchange, where members can share experiences and create common tools to encourage the development of financial solidarity in Europe. FEBEA members can offer their expertise and financing to the entrepreneurs of a solidarity-based economy (unemployed creating their own business, farmers starting up in organic farming, director of insertion enterprises...), who often have difficulty in obtaining financing from the traditional banking system.
FEBEA members promise that they have(1) aims and goals other than profit, (2) are politically and economically independent, (3) finance economic initiatives which pursue social/ethical goals, (4) have a capital of at least one million euros available and (5) have their seat in the European Union. The FEBEA can also establish partnerships with structures which have similar activities or objectives, but are not members.
FEBEA furthermore can use the following tools: a Mutual Guarantee Fund "Solidarity Guarantee" (to cover social and solidarity-based economy loans realized by the members of FEBEA and the fund), an Investment fund "Choix Solidaire” (a solidarity fund invested up to 10% in French and European company solidarity securities which is available to everyone and offers subscribers a socially responsible diversified investment with steady growth), the European Ethical and Alternative Financing Company (SEFEA, which offers its members financial and non-financial services to strengthen their own assets structure in order to respond to their clients' application for intervention and support, through medium- and long-term capitalisation and financing).
SEFEA is not limited to supporting existing financial institutions; not only does it aim to promote the start up of new ventures in countries where ethical financing is in its infancy, but it also aims to form the European Alternative Bank (BEA), which would have the assets structure of a bank, the expertise of SEFEA members and be in a position to act as a true European investment bank for the social sector, acting as a unitary and influential spokesman with regard to international public institutions