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Supporting Entrepreneurship: Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

The Brussels Capital Region is fully committed to achieving a sustainable economic transition. Its primary goal is to help micro enterprises (µEs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including industries, crafts, local shops, and social and democratic entrepreneurship.

To support anyone venturing into innovative business models for a sustainable future, the government continues its efforts to simplify administrative procedures. This includes updating the Small Business Act to serve as a supportive tool for all entrepreneurs, anchoring them in the economic transition. 

This approach should align with the evaluation of the different Business Passes, which has several objectives: 

  • Supporting and guiding all businesses, at any stage of their business life, in choosing innovative and exemplary economic models regarding social and environmental impact. 
  • Establishing a business-friendly environment, especially for transitional entrepreneurship, across all phases of entrepreneurship, regardless of the business model (start-up, stabilisation, transfer, transitioning to economically exemplary models, and businesses in need). This includes strengthening business support and financing mechanisms that encourage models with social and environmental benefits. It also involves removing legal and administrative barriers based on clear priorities to create a nurturing and entrepreneurial environment dedicated to transition (following the model of CIREDE). 
  • Facilitating access to financing, particularly for start-ups, by carefully evaluating the issue of financial access, which remains critical during the initial phase. 
  • Supporting diversity in entrepreneurship and businesses with a policy aimed at attracting an increasingly diverse audience. The government will focus its actions on supporting female entrepreneurship. 

Focus on Local Trade and Crafts

Trade and crafts are vital for the vibrancy of a city. The government prioritises local trade and neighbourhood revitalisation, connecting support for trade and crafts with the development of Industry 4.0. This includes creating a network of small-scale urban production through collaborations between thrift shops, recycling centers, and fab labs. The Brussels industry should fully embrace a circular policy meeting local needs while preserving, modernising, and redeveloping existing activities. 

Social and Democratic Entrepreneurship

Cooperatives play a central role in social and democratic entrepreneurship, allowing everyone to participate in the economy. Workers influence company management, users shape project development, and citizen-investors choose to support projects meeting their needs and those of the community. In the era of the digital revolution, the Brussels Government supports a cooperative model 2.0 and cooperative platforms. 

Support for Businesses

Lastly, employment support will undergo an evaluation within the context of goal 2.2. The government will assess whether small enterprises have access to the new measures in line with the commitments of the SBA. 

The two successive waves of the Covid-19 crisis have severely impacted the Brussels economy. The measures that have been taken or are in preparation to address these challenges include: 

  1. Support for businesses through grants and financial assistance (e.g., overdrafts, rent, loans, guarantees) 
  2. Guidance and education to overcome the crisis.  
  3. Measures aimed at boosting economic recovery, particularly addressing the vulnerabilities exposed during the crisis. This involves existing and new measures, including the RHP (first part) and RRF-related initiatives.  

In this context, given the uncertain period in which we find ourselves and which requires a certain flexibility, and with a view to permanent consultation with Brupartners, the TF Economy, chaired by the Secretary of State for Economic Transition, will continue to deal with economic matters under its jurisdiction, until the end of the Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath. 

Who were the key contributors?

  • Initiating Minister(s): State Secretary for Economic Transition and Scientific Research 
  • Associated Minister(s): Minister-President, the Minister responsible for Labor and Vocational Training 
  • Shared Priority  
  • Partners: Brupartners, Hub.brussels, Brussels Economy and Employment, Citydev.brussels, Net Brussels, Leefmilieu Brussels, Port.brussels, the Advisory Council for Social Entrepreneurship  
  • Organisations that are part of the management committee: Brupartners, Hub.brussels, Brussels Economy and Employment, Citydev.brussels, Net Brussels, Leefmilieu Brussels, Port.brussels, the Advisory Council for Social Entrepreneurship 

1. Evaluating, updating and implementing the Small Business Act

The SBA, dating back to 2016, comprises 77 measures that need to be implemented by 2025. The SBA is undergoing an evaluation, including the Business pass.  

The update will focus on: 

  • the process required to transform this scheme into a guidance and support tool for entrepreneurs within the economic transition policy. Clusters will also be evaluated in this context. The aim is to establish a legal-administrative environment favourable to entrepreneurial activities in economic transition (following the model of CIREDE) 
  • strengthening the pillars: supporting startups (developing a conducive environment and support measures); facilitating access to funding and introducing new instruments (Transitional Fund, a measure similar to the win-win loan or 'prêt coup de pouce', allowing individuals to lend money to businesses and self-employed individuals with a tax advantage in the form of a tax credit, match-funding); assisting struggling entrepreneurs. 
  • supporting female entrepreneurship (promoting the rise of female models, supporting the activities of women's entrepreneur networks, etc.). This update should ideally be carried out transversally. 

Leading authority: State Secretary for Economic Transition and Scientific Research 

2. Integrated policy for sustainable local trade

To promote the development of local trade and quality, sustainable businesses, the following actions should be developed: 

  • Evaluate, reorient, and implement the new regional plan for trade development (GSHO), taking into account the moratorium on the establishment of new large shopping centres and initiating a policy to manage commercial land 
  • Optimise the use of vacant retail spaces 
  • Strengthen and further develop "Open Soon" by promoting the opening of innovative, sustainable, and circular-oriented independent stores 
  • Develop an incubation strategy 
  • Create a strategy for e-commerce 
  • Regarding crafts, the government's policy should lead to: 
  • the creation of a label for Brussels crafts to provide visibility to the world of crafts in Brussels and ensure its continuity, following the definition used at the federal level 
  • the establishment of a federation and the House of Crafts, which should serve as the showcase for Brussels crafts and artisans, with a training workshop to encourage vocations. 

Leading authority: State Secretary for Economic Transition and Scientific Research 

3. Develop a Brussels industrial project for economic transition

The Brussels industrial plan should be reoriented to reflect the new government priorities. This partial revision should consider the following measures: 

  • anchor Brussels' industrial activity in a circular, low-carbon, and socially exemplary economy 
  • support a sustainable Industry 4.0 integrated into the urban fabric that meets local needs 
  • build bridges between Industry 4.0 and support policies for crafts 
  • develop clusters that bring together large companies, SMEs, and start-ups with universities and colleges, each with their respective spin-offs and research centres, for the development of industrial projects 
  • support spaces used for digital manufacturing. 

Leading authority: State Secretary for Economic Transition and Scientific Research; Minister in charge of Energy and Environment; Minister-President 

4. Social entrepreneurship as a promising economic model

Reorient existing financial instruments to support initiatives of social and democratic entrepreneurship (in conjunction with Pillar 1 - Objective 1) and evaluate the CoopUs measure for optimal utilisation. 

  • raise awareness and promote social entrepreneurship 
  • support the development of cooperative platforms (cooperatives 2.0) and place them centrally in the sharing economy 
  • ensure the continuity of Coopcity. 

Leading authority: State Secretary for Economic Transition and Scientific Research 

5. Assisting SMEs, micro-enterprises, and the self-employed in overcoming the impact of the COVID-19 crisis

From the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Government, within its competencies, implemented an economic package of measures: grants for businesses, cash credits, loans, centralised information through the number 1819, emergency assistance crisis cell, and more. 

After the first lockdown, in July 2020, the Government launched a recovery and redevelopment plan with measures taken and proposed. Considering the budgetary comparison, these measures were eventually included in the 2021 work program. The pandemic persists, and it is currently difficult to predict when it will end or what its economic consequences will be. 

In these uncertain times, it is necessary to continue monitoring the crisis, but it is also important to try to build a future by drawing lessons from the crisis with recovery measures in areas necessary for the Brussels economy. Therefore, the Economic TF continues. 

Leading authority: State Secretary for Economic Transition and Scientific Research 


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