Listening to entrepreneurs and aspiring self-employed people, you often notice that being a businessman or businesswoman isn’t easy. Excessive red tape and the many regulations they have to deal with every day hinder or often even stop them from setting up their own business.
The barriers are numerous: problems with financing, heavy bureaucracy as well as general lack of knowledge about the procedures and support systems in place.
This article wants to introduce to you one of the most relevant support systems: COSME, an EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The scheme is running from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3bn.
So what does it actually do? Where does all the money go to?
Part of it will be used to help the financing of SMEs.
Firstly, there is the Loan Guarantee Facility. Through it, the COSME budget funds guarantees for financial intermediaries (e.g. guarantee organisations, banks, leasing companies) to help them grant more loan and lease financing to SMEs.
Since the COSME programme shares the risks, financial intermediaries can increase the number of SMEs they finance. This gives many businesses that normally would not get funding, the opportunity to access this now.
If you are an entrepreneur and you want to know which financial intermediaries in your area profit from EU support, you can visit their website to find out.
The second part is the Equity Facility. This means that the COSME budget is invested in funds that provide venture capital and mezzanine finance to SMEs wanting to expand and grow, especially to those aiming to internationalise.
Furthermore, COSME tries to support the access to markets for SMEs, through, for example, the financing of the Enterprise Europe Network.
This network provides businesses with all the information they need concerning EU legislation and EU programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020 and regional funds). Are you struggling to access finances? Then this is the website you should check out.
It also assists interested entrepreneurs in finding a suitable business partner worldwide and offers support for innovation and technology transfer.
If you are thinking about going international with your company, the portal gathers all the services provided by national authorities.
For instance, COSME can assist you in dealing with issues relating to intellectual property rights in many parts of the world like China, ASEAN and Mercosur.
Last but not least, it collects entrepreneurs’ and SMEs’ opinions on EU legislation.
In this way, COSME tries to support the EU and national governments to come up with new laws which real entrepreneurs actually believe to be helpful. It will also monitor and compare performance of different policies, and provide analytical tools, such as Competitiveness Reports.
If you still need concrete examples of success stories in order to better understand what the Enterprise Europe Network does, you can read hundreds of them here.
Of course, there is more to be done! As the COSME programme is based on a holistic approach to entrepreneurship, it also addresses the following, interconnected issues:
– Entrepreneurship education, including best practices throughout the EU.
– Improving the business environment, especially regarding the legal and fiscal environment, as well as support for Web entrepreneurs. In general, COSME wants to lighten the administrative burden on businesses by removing unnecessary reporting and information requirements.
– There are also mentoring and other programmes (e.g. Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, which will be the subject of a future article) for special groups such as young people, women or senior entrepreneurs which should help to increase entrepreneurship.
– Did you know, there is also a European Enterprise Award. Why not give it a try? Maybe your business will be next year’s winner!