The 2013/04/08 at 08:10
Valérie Demon, in Madrid
The generation of 2,500 auto-entrepreneurs and 5,500 jobs: this is the figure noted by the Director of the Incyde Foundation when inaugurating the 3rd National Meeting of Business Incubators in mid-March. On this occasion, this institute, dependent on the Chambers of Commerce and devoted to the creation and consolidation of enterprises, organised meetings for almost 200 start-ups, 90 % of which have been created by young entrepreneurs.
The Incyde Foundation, set up in 1999, has managed to create almost 96 business incubators all over Spain, through one of the programmes of the European Regional Development Fund. These incubator structures temporarily host recently-created businesses, and accompany them in their first steps, providing advice over a two-year period. The young enterprises benefit from highly attractive rents and can occupy equipped office premises.
43 million euros in EU funds are to be allocated to the creation of 50 new business incubators. The Director has also announced that the first pilot business incubator to fight youth unemployment will shortly be launched (56 % of under-25-year-olds in Spain are unemployed). This 3rd Meeting was also an opportunity for start-ups present to attend workshops encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.
Regions also have their own business incubator networks. For example, in Madrid, 7 business incubators enable young entrepreneurs to set up structures with the help of advisers. Such networks are increasingly valuable in Spain where numerous unemployed persons are deciding to become self-employed. Every week, 67 small company heads get started in the country. In 2012, for the first time since the start of the crisis, the number of auto-entrepreneurs has progressed.
Sara, 33 years old, has low-rent premises in the Vicalvaro incubator, managed by the Madrid region. After four years working for a company, this young woman found herself unemployed, but only remained jobless for one and a half months. At the end of 2011, Sara set up her own company to commercialise automatic identification equipment. “I’ve been lucky to find this incubator. I began renting an office elsewhere in Madrid when I started my activity, but after a few months, I almost gave it all up. Finally, my application was accepted in this incubator,” she explains.
But beyond this aid, Sara has little faith in government support. “Frankly, I don’t see much support. In fact, I met all the criteria often required when it comes to eligibility for grants: I’m a woman, I’m under 35 years old, and I was unemployed. But I didn’t receive any aid except for a small monthly reduction of 60 euros for my social security subscription. This is not a real aid. The only help I received is from the incubator.”
Daily battles against administrative requirements do not make things any easier. With an MBA under his belt, Juan Manuel, 35 years old, had no trouble finding a job, at the start of 2008, in a public company. But he found himself unemployed three years later. He nevertheless saw the crisis as an opportunity, deciding to set up an activity specialising in energy efficiency and obtaining premises at the Vicalvaro. To get there, he has had to find his own way, and comments: “As small company heads, we want the country to be healthy, not for the government to help us. But that doesn’t mean it should scatter rocks in our path. In the incubator, I have received advice, which is already positive. But even to get advice, I’ve had to deal with a lengthy amount of paperwork. If you lack a form, you can’t set about other procedures. You need to get permission for various elements. Finally the problem is not the time that this takes but the difficulties in knowing all the steps that need to be taken.”
Yet auto-entrepreneurs and SMEs are positive about the Spanish government’s recent announcement to allow SMEs to only pay VAT once client invoices have been paid. This measure will not be enforced until 2014, though Sara would have liked it to be introduced earlier: “The VAT is awful. If I issue an invoice in December and am not paid until the end of March or start of April, I have to advance the VAT. This creates terrible holes in my bank account.” Small company heads above all hope that the economy will take off and that banks will grant financing once again.