SILVER SMEs aims at developing regional policies that take advantage of the Silver Economy to boost SMEs and entrepreneurship spirit in our rural and mountainous regions. After 3 years of analysis of our regional contexts, strengths and weaknesses, observation on the ground, and inter-regional exchanges of solutions that support rural older adults and promote the development of SMEs from the Silver Economy, SILVER SMEs is now taking action!
Based on our 3 years of learning, each partner has developed and is now implementing an Action Plan to unleash the potential of the Silver Economy in its own region. Today we meet with Bárbara Cerdán Fortea, from the European Programmes Office of Provincial Council of Teruel to discuss the Action Plan of Aragon developed by the Provincial Government of Teruel and understand how the new measures will make a difference in the province.
What are the main actions included in your Action Plan?
The main measures proposed in our Action Plan include:
- A communication campaign to raise awareness about the possibilities of the Province of Teruel as a silver-friendly territory
- The creation of a Chair of Silver Economy promoted by the Provincial Council of Teruel.
- An agreement with the University of Zaragoza and with the IES Bajo Aragón (a professional training centre) for the promotion of the Silver Economy in the Province through the work carried out in different courses and trainings.
- The inclusion of content on business opportunities in the provision of products and services to older adults within the Assistance Programmes for Entrepreneurs and Companies developed by the Regional Development Agency of the Government of Aragon (IAF).
- Trainings and consulting for SMEs and entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities in the provision of services and / or products to older adults.
What do you expect to achieve for SMEs from the Silver Economy and older adults in rural areas?
The objective is to raise awareness among entrepreneurs and help them to understand this niche business, which can benefit both older adults and the development of SMEs and new businesses.
Older adults are driving one of the most profitable and dynamic markets in recent years, turning a great challenge into an opportunity. Older adults are the passive actors and so can this silver economy. Thanks to the measures of our Action Plan, we want them to be passive actors, benefiting and enjoying new products and services and, at the same time, active actors and participants of the development of the silver sector.
How will these actions be technically executed?
These actions are carried out since the beginning of phase II of the SILVER SMES project, in June 2021, and continuity over time is envisaged. The Provincial Government of Teruel has increased some of its budget items in 2021 in order to implement the measures of the Action Plan. This will continue in 2022 and beyond. The planned budget for 2021 is 35,000 euros, and similar amount will be provided for 2022.
Both the Provicial Government of Teruel and Regional Development Agency of the Government of Aragon will participate in the promoted actions, with the Provicial Government of Teruel being the entity in charge of coordinating all actions.
What are the key findings of your regional SWOT and how will the planned actions address them?
One of our identified weaknesses was that fact that SMEs generally do not focus on the Silver Economy (according to 90% of interviewees) and that older adults are not perceived by companies as economic assets (according to 100% of respondents). Moreover, 84% of people said that only little efforts were made by policymakers to support the sector, apart from healthcare.
At the same time, the main threat for us is that the region of Aragón is among the most ageing regions of Spain. Today in our region, there are 136 people over 64 for every 100 children under the age of fifteen. In this context, Teruel is, without a doubt, the oldest province in the region. In the province, older adults (over 64) represent 24% of the provincial population.
Opportunities and strengths we found relate to the fact that older adults are somewhat encouraged to remain active in the region. In our regional context, the mobility sector was for example identified by 94% of our interviewees as a special opportunity for the Silver Economy in order to improve the transportation of older adults. 100% of the respondents to our survey at the beginning of the project also stated that informing SMEs of the size and nature of the Silver Economy market was a strong opportunity in our region.
In short, our Action Plan has taken into account the key findings of our SWOT analysis with a strong focus on raising awareness among SMEs in the region.
Discover in detail the measures implemented by the Provincial Government of Teruel to boost SMEs of the Silver Economy in its Action Plan!