The Bureau expects greater EU attention and action on access to finance, business transfer activities and entrepreneurship education.
On Monday 16th July, the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) met the Minister for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers Jason Azzopardi, to share its views on the draft ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Act’, recently issued by the European Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry.
Mr George Vella, who led the delegation as MBB President, welcomed the draft ‘Entrepreneurship Act’ and referred to it as a supplementary set of measures to the Small Business Act (SBA). He noted however that this new policy document should not replicate similar initiatives that would be running in parallel to other EU competitiveness-related processes, such as the SBA and the EU2020 Strategy.
The draft Act mentions the importance of having access to finance. MBB sees this as a major stumbling block for today’s SMEs in fulfilling their objectives. MBB is committing itself to undertaking a study that assesses the difficulties that SMEs face in this regard. This study will also focus on identifying ways in which increased access to finance could be achieved. MBB believes that there are big opportunities for SMEs on the one side, and financial institutions on the other, in trying to identify novel ways of how to increase SMEs access to finance.
Among other aspects, the ‘Entrepreneurship Act’ aims to bring about the inception of innovative support measures in favour of entrepreneurship. With regards to the facilitation of business start-ups, the MBB congratulated Government for being proactive in establishing the ‘Business First’ service at Malta Enterprise, which brought about a user-friendly single point of contact.
The ‘Entrepreneurship Act’ also discusses the issue of facilitating business transfer. Mr Vella explained how the MBB welcomes such measures as a positive action for the promotion of entrepreneurship. In this respect however, the Bureau recommends that a tailor-made support service addressing business transfers and business acquisitions, on the lines of the one-stop-shop service as provided by ‘Business First’, should be adequately set up to provide the necessary legal, audit and mentoring support during such transitions.
In relation to the aims of the ‘Entrepreneurship Act’ to foster an entrepreneurial spirit, the MBB agrees that this should be a key element in Malta’s plan to reduce the number of early-school leavers. The fostering of an entrepreneurial mentality could serve as a means to instill self-responsibility amongst youth, and thereby encourage them to venture into their own entrepreneurial activity. Consequently, the MBB is fully in favour of the implementation of measures instilling the idea that an entrepreneurial career is both feasible and attractive.
The MBB also agrees with the added value coming from the promotion of female and senior entrepreneurship. Female entrepreneurship is an important goal of the Europe 2020 Strategy, and the Bureau in fact, is contributing to this sphere as a strategic partner in AMIE, an EU-funded project promoting female entrepreneurship in Malta.
In terms of the ‘Entrepreneurship Act’ ambitions for SME internationalisation, the MBB pointed out to the Minister that it feels that several issues are absent from this document. One such issue for instance is the support provided to SMEs in order to expand their business on a cross-border level. Internationalisation is a very important step for the business development of SMEs helping them tap into larger markets, thus increasing their economies of scale. Export-driven growth is what contributes effectively and efficiently to the expansion of micro-business into more structured and less volatile entrepreneurial set-ups. Mr Vella also explained how internationalisation is critical in the context of Maltese businesses’ attempts to make a success of the European Single Market and cross-border trade is a fundamental aspect of the everyday economic dynamics.
The MBB delegation also highlighted certain shortcomings of the draft Entrepreneurship Act, which is to be discussed at this week’s first informal Competitiveness Council meeting under the incoming Cypriot Presidency. In particular, the draft Act fails to adequately address the issue on the facilitation of business transfer. Mr Vella explained the need for measures addressing business transfer, in particular for easier business management handover.
In the end, Mr Vella reiterated MBB’s commitment to monitor the progression of discussions on the draft ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Act’ at EU level in upcoming Competitiveness Council meetings.