At the end of November, ESBA President David Caro attended the SME Envoy meeting held in Graz, Austria in conjunction with the SME Assembly. The main topics covered included a a Public Procurement report on the way forward. It was found that 52% of SME’s that were asked have never heard of E-CERTIS (the online procurement information portal). The Late Payment Directive, a recurring and still very much alive issue for small businesses was discussed as well. One in four EU bankruptcies are due to late payment issues and 43% see late payment risks as a reason not to get involved with Public Procurement. The European Commission also share its report on 25 years of Single Market. SMEUnited, formerly known as UEAPME, presented the very relevant Early Warning Europe Project. This projects, helping to avoid bankruptcies has been supported and carried by ESBA since it was a Danish Pilot project. We are very pleased to see its steady progression into a fully fledged EU project. Austria addressed the issue of skills shortages, and Startup Genome published some very interesting statistics, showing that contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of startups are founded by entrepreneurs in their late 30s, not recent graduates.
The SME Assembly was an interesting mix of breakout presentations ranging from Blockchain and Business Beyond Boarders to the SME Economic Performance Review 2018 and Public Procurement Masterclass. It was good to be joined by fellow ESBA members Ewa Kubel (SBICO, Poland); Vida Kozar (Chamber of Small Businesses and Trade, Slovenia); Turgay Deniz, Salih Celiker & Lale Shener (KTTO, N. Cyprus) and John Walker and to meet with ESBA’s many friends throughout the European community.