We believe in people that are dynamic, entrepreneurial, talented, self-motivated and dedicated. People who have bright ideas and are motivated to follow their dream.
Success can be found anywhere - even in countries that face difficulties. Take for instance the example of Karatzis from Greece - a family company that has become hugely successful producing the colourful nets used for wrapping fruits and vegetables that we all know from the greengrocer and the supermarket.
Karatzis is now a market leader in netting with 95 percent of the sales on export markets. But despite its success, the attitude of its owners is not laid back. On the contrary, the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive and kicking within founder Antonis Karatzis, who runs the family business.
New start-up businesses from Karatzis in the renewable energy and tourism industries are well underway, but the road to success for entrepreneurs is not paved with new and even tarmac. In fact, the road is uneven and full of potholes stresses Antonis Karatzis.
"As an entrepreneur you face difficulties in accessing financing for your investments and the borrowing costs are high. If we can improve these conditions, it would certainly give a boost to companies and generate jobs," says Karatzis.
Easier access to European funds for SMEs
Even if many Greek companies - due to the very severe crisis that hit Greece - currently face even more difficulties in finding funds for investments at attractive terms than in the rest of Europe, the future might look brighter.
Because, when it comes to funding, the EU's newly-adopted COSME programme, which is exclusively dedicated to helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), will come to the rescue of many entrepreneurs - as MEP Bendt Bendtsen, who drafted the EPP Group's position on COSME, points out.
"This programme will provide a very welcome funding injection to small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe, thereby helping them to grow and create jobs," says Bendtsen. He adds that it has been a priority for the EPP Group to help those companies faced with financing issues: "It has been a priority to ensure that most of the funds are used for alleviating financing constraints. We succeeded in achieving this."
As it is, 60 percent of the total COSME funds of 2.03 billion euro are earmarked for the financing needs of SMEs.
Reducing red tape for smoother functioning of businesses
Back in Greece, Antonis Karatzis also observes how specific Greek issues create difficulties for entrepreneurs and business in general:
- the lack of stability in tax, labour and insurance structures;
- the delay in combatting tax evasion;
- delays in privatization and the opening up of protected professions.
But some challenges are shared with entrepreneurs across the EU Member States.
"Extensive bureaucracy and red tape is crushing entrepreneurship and poses a serious obstacle to the smooth functioning of businesses," says Karatzis.
The EPP Group focused strongly on reducing these burdens in negotiations on the COSME programme and, in the end, it was agreed that 11 percent of the funds will be used for - amongst other things - getting rid of these burdens.
"Activities that will reduce administrative and regulatory burdens will get more attention, in addition to activities like Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs and the promotion of entrepreneurship,” concludes Bendt Bendtsen.
Encouraging innovative SMEs and industry for more competitiveness
In addition to the COSME programme, Horizon 2020, a €70 billion budget framework programme for all European R&D projects, has been launched to accelerate the bringing to market of the results of innovation, to push Europe to the frontline of global competitiveness.
As Horizon 2020 is particularly interested in increasing the participation of SMEs and industry in the innovation loop, this new framework programme focuses on the simplification of the programme architecture, on less bureaucracy and on easier, faster and more efficient access to funding.