Fabian Demicoli

SMEs: Better access to finance and boosting entrepreneurship

 On the occasion of the fourth meeting of the European SME envoys held in Malta today, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani announced a series of new initiatives and planned actions to improve access of SMEs to finance, to boost entrepreneurship and to go international. To facilitate access to finance, the European Commission published today a practical guide providing information on how to access over €50 billion of public finance in the 27 Member States. Secondly the Commission launched a European wide training campaign for the Enterprise Europe Network to help SMEs get access to finance.

SMEs can contact one of 600 Enterprise Europe Network partners, who will be able to provide information on EU and national sources of finance. Vice President Tajani will also discuss with the SME envoys possible elements for an entrepreneurship action plan which Mr Tajani aims to table after the summer break to encourage the creation of new businesses and jobs. The plan intends to address obstacles, which hinder would-be entrepreneurs to set up their own business. It will also include measures to make the option of becoming his or her own boss a more widespread option.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for enterprise and industry policies, said today: "If we want to stimulate growth in Europe, it is from our SMEs that we must start. Entrepreneurial potential in Europe is not fully exploited: 45% of all Europeans would like to become their own boss if they could, but only an average of 10% are actually self-employed today. If we could raise this percentage, we could have millions of new innovative and creative enterprises which would rejuvenate Europe's economic basis, make it more robust, more job-generating and more resilient to stormy economic".

Background

Practical guide for SMEs to help access over €50billion of finance

To facilitate access to finance, the European Commission published today a practical guide for SMEs providing information on how to access over €50 billion of public finance in the 27 Member States.  It presents over 120 national or regional financing programmes and provides key information helping SMEs to apply for the different programmes in terms of characteristics, terms, conditions and contact information.

At the same time the Commission published an evaluation of public financing programmes in 5 Member States (Germany, France, the UK, Poland and Sweden) to exchange good practice and assess which programmes work best and could be used in other countries.  The evaluation highlights that public financing programmes need to have a clear scope and be flexible so that there can be changes if required such as during the present economic crisis.

More information – To access EU financial instruments, please visit the website of the European Investment Fund to locate banks or venture capital funds that provide finance in your country.

More than 600 Enterprise Europe Network partners advise on access to finance

Staff members of more than 600 partners of the Enterprise Europe Network were trained on access to finance so that they can now better advise SMEs finding the right financing provider. The Commission has established the Enterprise Europe Network to help SMEs to become more competitive, to internationalize and to find business and technology partners. The network is represented in 51 countries with 600 partner organizations. SMEs wishing to access finance, can contact the nearest member of the Enterprise Europe Network, who will be able to provide information on EU and national sources of finance.

More information

Action plan to set entrepreneurial potential of Europeans free

The European Commission is preparing an Entrepreneurship Action Plan – to be published in autumn 2012 – that will address areas where the entrepreneurial potential of citizens can be unleashed and where key bottlenecks can be overcome and obstacles to entrepreneurial activities removed. Possible areas of action include:

Facilitating Transfers of business: Each year, 150,000 companies with 600,000 jobs are lost due to the fact that owners retire or move on to other activities.

Efficient bankruptcy procedures and offering second chance: As 96% of all bankrupts are honest (e.g. due to late payments), faster and more affordable procedures for winding up business and for discharging them from bankruptcy could stimulate the creation of businesses.

Young people – the entrepreneurs of the future: Young people start more companies when they have gone through an "entrepreneurship" programme during primary or secondary education.

Women – the largest untapped pool of entrepreneurial potential in Europe: Women face a number of difficulties in running a business and constitute only a third of the self-employed in the EU.

Seniors – keep business knowledge active: Citizens above 50 bring valuable know-how and experience to start and run a company.

More information

The guide on access to finance and the training for the EEN staff are measures from the November 2011 Action Plan to improve access to finance for SMEs (MEMO/11/879).

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