Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

ESBA at Slovenia Chamber of Commerce. GZS with a presentation by David Caro, ESBA President

ESBA was represented by David Caro, the organisation’s President, at the Annual Conference of the Slovenia Chamber of Commerce, GZS. 7th April 2022.  David’s comments were:

Good morning everyone, greetings from the European Small Business Alliance, better known as ESBA.
I hope you; your families, friends and colleagues are all well, healthy and safe. It is so sad that after two years we, and our businesses, are still suffering the effects of Covid, but, hopefully, the virus is starting to weaken in how it affects us, and how we live our lives.
Finance for our small businesses has become so important following the damage Covid has inflicted. Our trading, manufacturing and particularly the hospitality and tourism industries have all been impacted, and many require funding to aid the recovery that we are all working towards, in the face of rising energy, raw material and labour costs, along with tax increases, as governments try to recover money spent on support measures during the virus shut-downs.
It is a known fact that since the 2008 recession many small businesses have relied on family, friends and credit cards to fund their business due to the difficulties in obtaining normal bank funding, almost always high risk for the people you love most and least want to let down, thus increasing the stress levels of running a business.
In the last 10 years there have been many changes and additions to the availability of small business funding streams, giving so many more options.
From the start of the 2008 recession ESBA has been a strong advocate for challenger banks with new approaches to business lending, as long as they are regulated to protect both investors and borrowers, but in a less inhibited way. We have seen this now come to fruition along with the rise of many other funding opportunities, even the main banks have, driven by the many alternate providers, have become more lending friendly to their small business clients.
Funding options, many of which I’m sure you will hear about later in the day, include Venture Capital and Regional Stock Exchanges where available, probably not the best option for many small businesses, but certainly worth investigation from growing SME’s. Equity release, particularly through Business Angel groups, can be of more interest to start-ups and small businesses in fast growing sectors. Crowd Funding is a new, flexible and very interesting source for an injection of capital into a business for a particular project, as long as it is structured in a way that gives a return to the lenders, for example, through discounted goods when the funds are used for product development, a guaranteed return on capital after an agreed time period, or any other imaginative offering.
I would add a few words of caution concerning small business funding and finance in these unstable times we are going through and taken from my own business experience. It’s very important not to over extend your borrowing, however tempting, the last thing you need when facing a challenging business period is having to find high loan repayments on top of all normal payment that go with running a business.
I would also add a warning about loans to “Green” your business, whether this is government or EU money. These loans will, at present, be counted against your ability to borrow further funds to expand your business. It is therefore important to review potential future business funding requirements when considering taking a Green Deal loan. ESBA are highlighting this issue to the Commission and suggesting ways of mitigating the impact to growth loan requirements.
I see that the second day of your conference is devoted to skills, particularly for women entrepreneurs.
Up-skilling is such an important area for many women who are new to running their own business, possibly from a home environment, where isolation makes it difficult to learn from other business people.
This is why a conference like this can help so much, not only for learning, but to know you are not alone.
New ways of working, which have accelerated due to Covid, require new skills, particularly in the digital environment, a medium that can give an almost limitless pool of customers, worldwide, from your home desk, if used to its full potential.
This is why the Slovenian Chamber of Small Business and Trade are working with ESBA in developing the EU WEgate platform, specifically designed for women entrepreneurs, enabling them to gather information and advice on finance tailored for enterprises run by women, business skills, to be able to ask questions, make connections and, very soon, have their own b2b Marketplace.
I know you will find the conference presentations very interesting and I am sure that the finance and skills experts to follow will respond to some of the comments I have just made.
I would like to thank our greatly valued member organisation, the Slovenian Chamber of Small Business and Trade, for once again giving me the honour of joining you today, I hope, and am sure you will, have a very interesting and informative two days.
Enjoy your driving tomorrow. Thank you.

European Small Business Alliance, Avenue de la Renaissance 1, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel 0032 (0) 496775334 Email [email protected]