3.9 Start-up funding for young entrepreneurs
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To foster entrepreneurship among youths, the Resolution on the National Programme for Youth 2013–2022 (Nacionalni program za mladino) was created in order to help youths begin their careers. The Resolution exposes the need to provide youths access to information services and high-quality information.
Young entrepreneurs receive a lot of information and financial incentives from the Slovene Enterprise Fund (SEF) through a special program, ‘Youth’ (Mladi), which was started in 2014. Young entrepreneurs can get support from various technological parks, such as Ljubljana Technology Park. The SEF is another large source of information on youth entrepreneurship in Slovenia.
According to the Public Employment Service (PES), women are much more cautious when deciding whether to begin an entrepreneurial journey. In May 2016, Slovenia launched a special ALMP programme to encourage and support the self-employment of women with higher levels of education. ‘Supporting Women Entrepreneurs’ is a joint ALPM programme supervised by MDDSZ and MGRT and implemented by the Public ESS and the Public Agency Spirit Slovenia. The programme offers training for unemployed women who want to start a business, followed by start-up support (lump-sum subvention for self-employment) and follow-up training and mentorship. The target group is unemployed women with higher professional education (level six or higher). The target group was selected based on the labour market, in which employment opportunities have diminished for women with tertiary education, especially during the economic crisis (which led to few new employment opportunities in the public sector). In 2017, 405 women became self-employed with the support of the programme, 77 of which were younger than 30 years of age. In 2018, the programme supported self-employment of 393 women, among which were 45 younger than 30 years and in 2019, the programme supported 138 women, 9 of which were younger than 29.
The SEF (Javni Sklad Republike Slovenije za podjetništvo) offers financial support for newly established innovative enterprises. These incentives provide financial support to young enterprises in the first phase of development. ‘This is the most extensive group of newly established innovative enterprises that show potential for rapid growth and require favourable financial sources when starting out.’
The MGRT supports the following actions, which represent the connection between the school system and the economy, as well as activities performed during the beginning phase of an enterprise:
- At the level of faculties: Services of university incubators. A university incubator is a legal entity that is under a contract or agreement regarding long-term cooperation with the university. It enables the realisation of entrepreneurial initiatives. Alone or in conjunction with the university, pre-incubation activities and entrepreneurial initiatives are carried out in order to allow innovative incubated companies to operate in a regulated business environment and obtain the necessary support for their development.
These measures are implemented in primary and secondary schools and faculties, but involve a very small percentage of young people. The matter is not systemically regulated and is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
Through SPIRIT, the MGRT carries out various activities that promote entrepreneurship:
- General promotion of entrepreneurship as a social category and
- Measures to support entrepreneurship among other target groups (for example, women).
Activities of the SEF
The SEF has created the programme ‘Young Enterprises’, which provides support to enterprises that have been operating for less than 5 years that, due to their development and lack of a track record, have difficulty obtaining the necessary financial resources in the market.
Within this programme, the SEF offers special incentives to young enterprises that are at the beginning phase of development, have economic importance and are identified by a gap analysis as extremely vulnerable on the market.
The SEF offers the following:
- Seed capital – ‘Products designed for young enterprises with the potential for growth, and consequently for creating new jobs (especially young technological enterprises), and that are especially vulnerable in the early stages of development are provided to ensure that the business gets off to a successful start.’
- Microcredits for young enterprises – This provides enterprises within specific target groups access to favourable financing resources.
- Guarantees for young enterprises – ‘The SEF provides guarantees for bank loans with interest rate subsidies, which enables SMEs to obtain bank loans to implement projects in a faster, easier and cheaper manner.’
‘Young Enterprises’ contributes to the development of enterprises, the successful transfer of business development ideas into successful commercial undertakings and the creation of innovation-oriented enterprises with the potential for growth. It focuses on the development and commercialisation of products, processes and services. Products are created based on the principle of ‘SEF TWIN’, which means that the recipients of funds are entitled to financial incentives as well as substantive incentives (e.g. a coaching programme) that are intended to meet the needs of enterprises.
Recently, leading innovators have started to connect through the initiative Start:up Slovenia in order to create and strengthen national programmes for encouraging entrepreneurship and ensure that there is a comprehensive support network for launching and building start-up companies throughout Slovenia. Start:up Slovenia is an open platform that various organisations and individuals can join by providing a statement of support indicating that they wish to contribute to making Slovenia a dynamic, entrepreneurial and talent-friendly country. Programmes implemented by the initiative provide financial support (grants, guarantees, microloans, seed capital and venture capital) to encourage ideas, projects and start-ups. There are organised start-up weekends, and a national campaign that concludes with an international start-up and entrepreneurship event, PODIM.