Access to finance is one of the levers for growth for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs): without adequate funding and without liquidity, no business can operate, invest and grow. SMEs have historically relied on bank loans. For the last 10 years however, the bank credit constraints that resulted from the economic crisis have had a disproportionate impact on SMEs. The specific problem of the access to finance constrains the development of SMEs in Europe and is objectively a major issue. The reluctance of commercial banks to finance SMEs requires a more creative approach.

Access to finance for SMEs is highlighted in the “Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan” of the EU Commission (2013): “More must be done at both European and national levels to overcome market deficiencies, including exploring alternatives to bank lending for SMEs, to complement the limited private financing available and to make information on funding more easily available”.

Support for these areas is proposed by the European Commission under the COSME programme and Horizon 2020, and are reinforced under the European Structural and Investment Funds. Past and ongoing European projects have tried and tested solutions in this field and serve as valuable insight for practitioners eager to support innovative SMEs and start-ups.

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Your input to shape the Platform support is highly appreciated. Please contact Philippe Delearde, Thematic Manager for SME Competitiveness, [email protected] to learn more about the SME Competitiveness Platform and its services, and to contribute.