Small and medium-sized businesses contribute more than 1.5 billion euros annually to local associations and social initiatives. Entrepreneurs support their employees with financial problems and informal care and see a larger role for themselves in society than purely economic.
This and more is evident from research into the social value of SMEs, which MKB-Nederland commissioned in the context of the Day of the Entrepreneur. ‘In the run-up to the elections, it is a lot about social security. Entrepreneurs are indispensable in that regard and contribute in every possible way,” says chairman Jacco Vonhof of MKB-Nederland. He will hand over the results of the research to outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte this morning in The Hague.
According to Vonhof, the results of the research conducted by Panteia underline that entrepreneurs intrinsically do the right thing for their employees and their environment. ‘What politicians try to enforce with increasingly complex legislation and regulations, in practice entrepreneurs simply do themselves.’ This also applies to social security. ‘Security is about more than just income. It is also about ensuring that children from poorer families can play sports, that young people are trained and guided to work, that there are still shops in small towns for the basic necessities of life and where the elderly can meet each other. It is entrepreneurs who ensure that.’
Politicians must realize this much better and nurture entrepreneurs, instead of making it unnecessarily difficult for them, for example with constant new increases in taxes and even more complicated obligations, according to the chairman of MKB-Nederland. ‘SMEs are very clearly not only the engine of the economy and employment, but also the driving force behind the local community. If The Hague is aware of this, it could also lead to different, better policies. Don’t take the role of entrepreneurship for granted.’
More than just making money
In the MKB-Nederland survey, a large majority (64%) of entrepreneurs indicate that their company plays a larger role in society than purely economic and has other priorities and activities than just ‘making money’. For example, 69 percent are actively committed to the quality of life, safety and social cohesion of the local community and the vast majority (74%) sponsor social organizations and/or social activities in the region; from sports clubs, cultural organizations and schools to healthcare institutions, food banks and community centers. Entrepreneurs not only invest money, but also hours and resources in this. Added up, this amounts to an average of almost 5,000 euros per company per year. For the entire SME sector this amounts to more than 1.5 billion euros annually.
Connectedness with immediate environment
As reasons for doing this, entrepreneurs mainly mention involvement in their immediate environment, the quality of life and ‘wanting to give something back to society’. Their connection with the local community is also evident from the fact that 60 percent prefer to purchase as many products and services locally as possible. In this way, entrepreneurs also take care of each other.
Help with financial problems and informal care
The research shows that SMEs are of great importance for regional and local employment. At more than half of the companies, more than three-quarters of the employees live within a radius of fifteen kilometers. The care and commitment that entrepreneurs feel for their immediate environment, they also feel for the well-being and development of their own people. For example, almost seventy percent pay the costs of courses and studies for career development and 63 percent offer the opportunity to follow these during working hours. About forty percent of SMEs offer employees help with financial problems and make working time available for informal care.
SMEs also contribute socially by training young people and giving people at a distance from the labor market a chance. Entrepreneurs are doing the first en masse: last year, on average, SMEs all had an internship or apprenticeship for young people. More than 1 in 5 entrepreneurs currently employ people who are at a distance from the labor market. Almost a quarter do not have this now, but have had it in the past two years.
Day of the Entrepreneur
The research into the social value of SMEs was carried out by Panteia on behalf of MKB-Nederland in the context of the Day of the Entrepreneur. More than 1,100 SME entrepreneurs with staff were interviewed for this purpose.
At the initiative of MKB-Nederland, the Netherlands celebrated Entrepreneur’s Day on Friday, November 17, for the eighth year in a row. Throughout the country, municipalities, industry and other organizations organized activities with and for entrepreneurs and a large number of ministers, MPs and Members of the European Parliament visited entrepreneurs. Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte received Jacco Vonhof and two entrepreneurs in the tower in the morning.
Entrepreneur Day was created to thank entrepreneurs for their courage, perseverance and contribution to the economy, employment and society.