Detailhandel, the €18bn pension fund for the Dutch retail sector, is to issue loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are still struggling to get bank financing.

According to local news daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), the loans – ranging from €250,000 to €1m – are to be issued through the SME Impuls Fund, which will be placed in a foundation managed by Utrecht-based financial service provider Finance Ideas Management.

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Detailhandel has committed €40m to the venture but expects to increase the allocation to €100m next year, the FD said.

The newspaper quoted André Snellen, a trustee, as saying that his pension fund was purely participating in the fund as an investor.

He said Detailhandel, after a thorough assessment, had concluded the loans would be a healthy and sound investment, generating returns of 6-7%.

According to Snellen, the idea behind the initiative is that other pension funds will also participate in the Impuls Fund.

Finance Ideas Management’s Martine Vissers, who developed the fund, said a recent survey of the market had shown that Dutch SMEs chiefly require loans in the range €250,000 to €1m.

She said the Impuls Fund’s approach would be simple and transparent, and that the loans would be available to almost any profitable company with more than two years under its belt and a turnover of more than €600,000.

Vissers added that the fund would not charge commission and that interest charged for the SME loans would range between 8% and 12%.

The SME Impuls Fund follows in the footsteps of a number of other initiatives, including the recently launched Nederlandse Investeringsinstelling, the NL Ondernemingsfonds and Qredits for smaller loans.

The NL Ondernemingsfonds, launched in January, also focuses on Dutch pension funds but has yet to issue a loan.

However, its loans are only available to companies with a turnover of more than €40m.