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Small and medium sized companies are the engine of Europe's economy, accounting for 80% of European jobs created in the last five years. In Business Planet, we talk to those entrepreneurs who have succeeded and find out how they did it.
  • - SMEs are the backbone of the European economy representing 69% of private employment. Micro-enterprises, businesses with less than 10 employees, represent 92% of enterprises and 30% of employees.
  • - The principle 'think small first' is fundamental to the Small Business Act for Europe. It requires that legislation takes SMEs' interests into account at the very early stages of policy making in order to make legislation more SME friendly.
  • - The 'Think Small First' initiative in Latvia has helped micro-enterprises by promoting the creation of a special tax rate and simplified tax accounting system. It has also introduced a micro-credit programme and has made information about launching a business available in one place.
  • - As a result of this initiative, a total of 28,000 enterprises have utilised the simplified tax accounting system and the number of micro-enterprises in Latvia is continuing to grow.

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    Access to South Korean markets

  • Kick start Korea
    04/04 11:11 CET

    Kick start Korea

    South Korea has one of the fastest growing and most hi-tech economies in the world. So it is an extremely attractive market for SMEs (small and medium sized) European companies specialising in the latest technologies. Thanks to their expertise in ultrasonic…

  • - Ranked 15 in the world (by GDP in 2012), South Korea is one of the fastest growing OECD countries, with a population of over 50 million people.
  • - Korea is the EU's tenth largest trade partner. EU exports to South Korea enjoyed an annual average growth rate of 7% between 2007 and 2011. The European Union has had a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea since July 2011 and European companies are the largest investors in South Korea.
  • - The Korean government aims to achieve a target of 11% of new and renewable energy (NRE) to be deployed by 2030 and considers NRE technologies a growth engine. This means great opportunities for leading European technology companies to develop business cooperation.
  • - The EU Gateway to Korea programme helps EU hi-tech SMEs (small and medium sized companies) benefit from the Korean market. Via one-week business trips to Seoul, European SMEs seize local market opportunities, learn about Korean markets and meet potential distributors and partners.
  • - Since 2009, 350 European companies have participated in business missions to Korea, introducing their business products and interacting with over 6000 Korean stakeholders. 62% of them created new business collaborations with Korean companies, and 25% reported increases in revenues from exporting to Korea.

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  • - Ranked #3 in the world (GDP 2012), Japan is a truly global market with a population of 127 million people.
  • - It is the EU's third most important business partner. Trade negotiations between the EU and Japan started in March 2013 and opportunities for EU companies on the Japanese market are expected to rise in the future.
  • - In the post-Fukushima area, the Japanese government focuses its policy on new and renewable forms of energy as well as energy savings measures. This means great opportunities for European technology companies in these fields.
  • - Cultural differences and unfamiliar regulatory requirements are two key challenges for EU companies to entering the Japanese market.
  • - The EU Gateway to Japan helps EU small and medium sized companies to seize local market opportunities. Through one-week business missions, they learn about the Japanese market and meet potential distributors and partners.
  • - Around 1,000 European companies participated so far in 30 business missions to Japan, introducing their business products and interacting with thousands of Japanese stakeholders. More than 40% of the companies participating in EU Gateway to Japan during 2011 state that they experienced revenue growth following the business mission.

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    Female Business Angels

  • The angels on entrepreneurs' shoulders
    07/03 11:13 CET

    The angels on entrepreneurs' shoulders

    Business Angels invest their money, time, expertise and even their charisma in start-ups or businesses that are relaunching. In this edition of Business Planet we take a look at the concept with…

  • - It is estimated that business angels in the EU invest about 4-5 billion euros per year.
  • - A business angel is an individual, who invests his/her own money in enterprises at early stages of development. Often with a business experience, the business angel can also mentor the entrepreneur.
  • - Internet platforms can enable business angels to diversify their investments and attract more female business angels.
  • - Women represent less than 5% of business angels in the EU compared to 15% in the United States. Female business angels tend to invest more in businesses started by women entrepreneurs than men.
  • - Only 30% of entrepreneurs are women in the EU – they have usually a lower capital to start their business than men, and face greater challenges to get finance than men.
  • - Having more women business angels could increase the whole investment made by business angels. It could also help to diversify the sectors of investment, currently focused on high-tech. And it could support the development of female entrepreneurship.

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Previous editions

  1. Turning a troubled textile hub into a thriving business cluster
  2. Business Planet: Boom in Bilbao as entrepreneurs schooled
  3. Lean and green: Ecostars inspires competitiveness and fuel efficiency
  4. Boosting exports through networking
  5. Cashing in on culture - how businesses make money from Europe's history
  6. Get bigger, go public: SMEs launching on the stock exchange
  7. KETS: transforming innovation into competitive product
  8. Finding the right leader
  9. Clusters: powerful engines of economic development in Europe
  10. Greece: cooperatives wage war on recession and unemployment
  11. Business networks provide strength through unity
  12. New energy and new directions in Bulgaria
  13. 1,2,3, GO! Coaching and business development for innovative start-ups
  14. How JEREMIE helped a Maltese company take wing
  15. Recycling tyres: road to success
  16. Erasmus: a win-win deal
  17. Giving and receiving: social enterprise in Europe
  18. How to protect your IPR in China
  19. The Great Call of China
  20. Angel dust magic for SMEs
  21. Moving on smoothly as companies change hands
  22. Eco-labels: a smart strategy
  23. Promoting female entrepreneurs
  24. Rising to new challenges
  25. Green light for green clusters
  26. Two's Company in Belgium
  27. Meet the EU's female ambassadors for business
  28. Micro-credit brings organic growth in Ireland
  29. EU grants for eco-innovation
  30. Wired to the world
  31. Venture capital, a risky business?
  32. Go green, get growing
  33. Cooperative and competitive
  34. Incubating Spanish business
  35. Boosting Women Entrepreneurs
  36. Meeting targets
  37. Business parties in Swedish countryside
  38. Greek business clusters together to find strength in numbers
  39. Women entrepreneurs could be answer to crisis
  40. Taking business into Welsh schools
  41. Inheriting a business: how to make it a success
  42. New 'business hotel' scheme revives French region
  43. Setting up business in Latvia
  44. Business Planet battles bankruptcies
  45. Protecting the environment can be profitable
  46. Helping minorities into the EU job market
  47. Financing for the future

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