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Access to finance

Access to Finance survey by Eurostat

Access to Finance survey by Eurostat

This page provides data on the Access to Finance for SMEs survey coordinated by Eurostat. The survey was a one-off exercise completed in 2011 and directed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 20 European Union countries.

Main findings

The survey analysis revealed that:

  • More than half of surveyed companies did not seek finance of any type in 2007 and 2010;
  • Most SMEs expect their need for external finance to increase in the coming years;
  • Some sectors in particular are expected to request financing in the coming years, such as industry and construction;
  • Loans remain the most requested finance type;
  • Success rate in obtaining finance severely decreased when comparing 2010 to 2007;
  • Reasons given for partial success or failure to obtain loans diverge: lack of own capital of loan seekers according to banks, too steep interest rates according to loan seekers themselves;
  • "Being already a client" was the main reported reason for choosing a particular bank for a loan in both 2007 and 2010;
  • Need of a guarantee in obtaining loan finance is rare;
  • 35% of all surveyed companies considered the financial situation of the business remained unchanged between 2007 and 2010.

The full dataset from the survey is available here.

Types of finance sought

Loans are the most demanded type of external finding sought by the surveyed SMEs, and this trend is likely to continue in the 2011-2013 period. While the need for “other” sources of finances was still high in 2010, it is predicted to decrease in the next years.

For gazelles and high-growth companies the need for loan finance is expected to rise by 10% points in the 2011-2013 period. However, the need for equity finance will nearly double.

Types of finance sought in 2010

Seeking finance in 2010 png - 66 KB [66 KB]

(Click on chart to see a larger version)

Data released by Eurostat show that the economic crisis has limited SMEs’ access to financing. Credit has become less available: in 19 of the 20 Member States for which data is available, the proportion of unsuccessful loan applications has risen between 2007 and 2010. The largest increases in unsuccessful loan applications were observed in Bulgaria (from 3% in 2007 to 36% in 2010), Ireland (from 1% to 27%) and Latvia (from 4% to 26%). Sweden is the only country where a decrease (from 9% to 6 %) is evident. The 2010 numbers reveal that the proportion of unsuccessful applications is highest in Bulgaria (36%), Ireland (27%), Latvia (26%), the Netherlands (23%), Lithuania and the United Kingdom (both 21%). In Finland (0.2%), Malta (2%), Cyprus and Poland (both 4%) and Italy (5%) the proportion is lowest. More information is available here.

Success rate in obtaining loan finance from banks in 2007 and in 2010

Success rate in obtaining loan finance from banks in 2007 and in 2010 png - 84 KB [84 KB]

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Success rate in obtaining finance

For loans and equity finance the success rate has decreased by respectively 19 and 15 percentage points. In general, the data show that small firms often failed in their attempts to obtain finance from financial institutions, and the rate of unsuccessful or partially successful requests doubled from 2007 to 2010. This development was also evident for gazelles and high growth firms. The following chart details enterprises' finance resources by sources of finance.

SMEs' finance sources

Success rate in obtaining loan finance by sources png - 80 KB [80 KB]

(Click on chart to see a larger version)


Reasons for failure in obtaining finance

Poor credit rating, lack of own capital and insufficient collateral were the main reason why banks refused to grant loans to SMEs in both 2007 and 2010. Over the same period, the data indicate that interest rates have fallen. A decreasing number of loan-seeking businesses reported interest rates as a reason for not succeeding in obtaining finance. Interestingly, the survey shows that the need for guarantees was not the main reasons for the SMEs’ difficulties in obtaining finance.


The general impression from the survey is that banks and leasing companies are expected to be the most important financiers for SMEs. Moreover, the owners and directors of businesses are also expected to be important sources of financing in the coming two years. Local governments are only to a very limited degree (5%) expected to be a source of financing in the same time period.

While access to finance on average has become harder to obtain, this is not the biggest concern for SMEs. Price competition and limited demand are seen as the biggest challenges in the coming years.


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