3.9 Start-up funding for young entrepreneurs
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Most of the support for young entrepreneurs have been available in packages: training and small start-up funding, within EU funded project under the European Social Fund. The communication in this respect have been only project based and no long-term strategy was designed.
No other information is available about top-level policy measure implemented to ensure that young people know about the opportunities, funding and services they can receive as young entrepreneurs.
In 2017, the former Ministry for the Business Environment, Commerce and Entrepreneurship (part of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Tourism since November 2021) launched a programme dedicated to funding new business: the programme Start-Up Nation - Romania. The programme is similar with the programmes implemented in the past, using funding from the European Social Fund to support start-ups. Start-Up Nation - Romania uses national budget funds to support start-ups with a maximum of 200 000 lei (about 43 000 Euro). The programme was launched in 2017 and other calls have been published in December 2018 and October 2019. In 2020 the programme focused on supporting the IT start-ups under the name: Star Tech Innovation. In 2021 the budgetary allocations for entrepreneurship focused on curbing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, Start-Up Nation Romania was relaunched under similar conditions to the ones in 2019.
Although opened and promoted as a programme for young people, Start-Up Nation Romania is not designed especially for young people, and older entrepreneurs can apply as well. The programme supports small start-ups viable for at least 2 years after the first year when they have been funded and creating at least one job.
In 2018, the Romanian government selected the grant administrators for a programme similar to Strt-Up Romania, called Romania Start-Up Plus. TThe programme supports start-ups for all ages entrepreneurs with up to 40 000 Euro, using European funds form the European Social Fund through the Operational Programme Human Capital. In 2018, the Managing Authority of the programme, at the Ministry of European Investments and Projects, selected 195 organisations and universities to manage grant schemes for projects. Part of the funding was directed to entrepreneurship training, but the most part of the funding was re-granted for small start-ups in very similar conditions with Start-Up Romania.
In 2020, the Ministry of European Investments and Projects launched a grant scheme, supported by the European Social Fund, encouraging students to become entrepreneurs. The fund – Innotech Student – awarded the first grants at the end of 2021.
Funding for start-ups and training have been available in for hundreds of young people within a programme of the Ministry of Economy, Commerce and the Relationship with the Business Environment between 2010 and 2014. In 2015 and 2016 the programme was not targeting young people, but all start-ups, for all ages entrepreneurs. Due to changes in the structure of the Ministry, the information on these programmes is no longer available online.
Other programmes for entrepreneurship supported by the Romanian government have been:
- The programme for the development of marketing activities of products and market services (no longer opened after 2019);
- The programme for the development of the entrepreneurial culture among women managers in the SME sector (no longer opened after 2019);
- The national multi-annual micro-industrialization programme (available until 2018);
- The multi-annual national programme for supporting crafts and handicrafts (opened until 2016).