The 2012/07/16 at 09:00
Valérie Demon, in Madrid
In these times of economic turbulence, senior citizens can allow small business heads or those choosing to set up their businesses to benefit from their experience. The Chamber of Commerce of La Rioja has recently signed an agreement with the association SECOT (Spanish Seniors for Technical Cooperation). The latter, set up in 1989, is made up of 1,200 volunteer seniors, either retired or in pre-retirement stage, who freely offer to share experience accumulated throughout their careers. The Chamber of Commerce of La Rioja provides use of its premises and in exchange, seven persons from SECOT offer advice. “They bring their vision on the viability of SME projects, they can act as tutors. They know how to coach others in elaborating marketing plans or financing requests,” declares Florencio Nicolás, Manager of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce of Rioja is in fact following the example of a number of its counterparts. The association SECOT has around thirty offices in Chambers of Commerce. Set up by the Entrepreneurs’ Circle and the Upper Council of Chambers of Commerce, this collaboration was a natural step. Since the start of the crisis, SECOT has practically tripled the number of businesses it helps. “Many people have found themselves out of work and are looking to become self-employed, they are not doing so because of a vocation,” specifies Carlos García Cebrían, Secretary General of SECOT.
SECOT also advises SMEs and micro-enterprises. “These small enterprises seek financing not to expand but simply to survive in the current crisis as their turnover has diminished. We have all gone through crises during our careers but the one that we are now experiencing is forcing many SMEs to go back to basics,” explains Carlos García Cebrían. The seniors of -SECOT therefore guide them to maintain a satisfactory cash flow or to control salary costs that may be too high. “The strong growth that Spain underwent probably meant that SME heads forgot the elementary rules,” comments the Secretary General.
SECOT quantified its aid for the first time in 2011. Out of ten SME creation projects, one has been completed with at least two or three jobs created. The association has an abundance of projects. This year, it launched a free mini-Master’s on how to set up and manage an SME. The first classes were launched in February this year with around one hundred pupils.