We believe in people who have great ambitions but do not forget where they come from. People who are not discouraged if they fail once or twice, who persevere to achieve their dreams but who are not afraid to ask for help when it’s needed.
Ivan Dell’Orco had a dream: to expand his father’s fish retail business and to make it successful. But after experiencing a lot of difficulties he understood that he could not get there on his own. That is when he turned to the European Union for help.
This is his story.
Receiving and giving back
“My father was a fisherman, and he owned a small business in Zadar (Croatia), with which he struggled for more than 30 years. He had to get up very early in the morning and spent countless hours carrying and selling fish at small local markets. With the money he saved over the years, I was able to have an education and eventually graduated in Economics.
After my diploma, I had one goal: to give back to my father, after he had given so much to me. So I decided to develop and expand his fishing business, with the new tools and knowledge I’d acquired in college: monitoring and predicting market trends, increasing competitiveness by developing infrastructure and diversifying our seafood products and selling value-added products."
"But soon I encountered difficulties I did not expect, especially in terms of logistics and workforce: I did not have the financial means to make my project concrete. So I decided to look up what kind of help I could benefit from on the Internet.”
Funding of projects in EU candidate countries
The European portal for SMEs steers the internet user, according to their interests, to relevant websites. It is a good entry point for SMEs that want to know what the EU can do for them. The 'Enterprise Europe Network' also informs small businesses about the EU regulations in place and can help provide valuable advice, potential partners and technological support for prospective projects.
Ivan told us how he managed to get EU funding: “I discovered the IPARD (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance in Rural Development), for countries such as Croatia, which was about to join the EU.
Our project perfectly matched measure 103: ’Investments in the processing and marketing of agriculture and fishery products to restructure those activities and to upgrade them to Community standards‘. Eventually we signed a contract with the Croatian Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development. The Agency, benefiting from EU funding, agreed to provide us with half of the investment needed to start our business; we were then able to buy the proper equipment and to start production.”
IPARD was a fund tailor-made for EU candidate countries with only limited funds. In simple terms that meant that there was a separate funding envelope that Croatia could use to finance its projects. Now, since its accession on 1 July 2013, Croats can participate on an equal footing in all the EU’s programmes.
Supporting the small businesses at the core of European growth
Ivan used his education and the opportunities the EU had to offer to grow his business from a small family firm to an established exporter and a job creator.
“Three years later, Croatia joined the EU and our little business went big: we now export our products to several European countries, especially to the Italian market, and we have implemented innovative selling strategies, like opening small shop-restaurants and an online store.
Now my father is so proud to see what his little fish business has become.”
SMEs are at the core of European economic growth. 23 million European SMEs participate in a smart, inclusive and sustainable economy focused on innovation and job creation. That is why, in the EPP Group, they are our priority and why, when we legislate, we always keep in mind that legislation should be created in a way that even the smallest entity has the capacity to implement it.
Since 2008, the Small Business Act is in place to make it easier for SMEs to thrive in Europe. Our activities in favour of an SME-friendly climate in Europe always try to focus on three things: easier access to funding, less red tape, and easier market access. So that individuals can make a difference.