SMEs and entrepreneurs hold a significant role in all economies and are the key generators of employment and income as long as drivers of innovation and growth. In the OECD area, they employ more than half of the labor force in the private sector. In the European Union, they account for over 99 % of all enterprises. Furthermore, 91 % of these enterprises are micro-SMEs with less than 10 workers. They offer their importance in all economies and are essential for the economic recovery.
Even in ‘normal’ economic conditions governments have recognized that, to survive and grow, micro-SMEs need specific policies and programmes – hence the comprehensive range of SME measures currently in place across the OECD members. However, Europe-wide they have been especially hard hit by the ongoing crisis. These companies are more vulnerable now for many reasons: not only because of the traditional challenge of accessing financial resources, but because:
- it is difficult for them to downsize as they are already small;
- they are individually less diversified in their economic activities;
- they have a weaker financial structure (i.e. lower capitalization);
- they have a lower or no credit rating;
- they are heavily dependent on credit and they have fewer financing options.