“BRUSOC Objectif 2013”: Business support for a strong social economy in Brussels

BRUSOC is fostering economic development in the Brussels region by helping small start-ups with micro credits, seed capital and business advisory services.

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Victoria Diyakova’s “Récomfort +” is just one of close to 250 successful enterprises supported by BRUSOC. © SRIB Victoria Diyakova’s “Récomfort +” is just one of close to 250 successful enterprises supported by BRUSOC. © SRIB

" European funds and public financing have been put to excellent use by BRUSOC. This has had a positive impact on the lives of Brussels citizens and has improved the economy of various districts in the Region. "

Serge Vilain, President of the Brussels Region Investment Corporation and BRUSOC Project Manager

Seed capital investments and small loans from BRUSOC have helped 599 people working on 248 different projects to launch and develop their own businesses in Brussels. A new wave of self-employed consultants, shop-owners, and heads of small companies is bringing renewed optimism and determination to an area that has long been burdened with high unemployment rates, and was particularly vulnerable to the effects of the 2007 financial crisis.

This government-designated “Priority Intervention Zone” covers urban areas in the east and north of central Brussels and in the neighbouring districts bordering the Brussels Canal. The Brussels regional government, with the ERDF’s support, is betting on the creation and on-going support of local, sustainable jobs as a key factor in revitalising the area and attracting investment.

BRUSOC steps in with capital resources when bank loans and other means of financing are unavailable. Yet this regional development instrument offers more than a financial leg-up: entrepreneurs benefit from one-on-one guidance to help them through the paperwork required in setting up a company or a co-op, to prepare a business plan, meet deadlines, and fulfil fiscal or legal obligations.

Investing in local growth

BRUSOC typically invests between EUR 1 250 and EUR 95 000 in the form of seed capital or loans to support the creation of new businesses, or the acquisition or development of existing enterprises. A team of analysts and business advisors serve as coaches, and beneficiaries of the project are grateful and enthusiastic when interviewed about their experience.

Recent success stories include “Réconfort +”, a cooperative eco-renovation venture that ticks all the right boxes: environmentally-friendly renovation and reconstruction using the latest “green” building techniques; recruitment and training of workers who had been facing the increasingly grim consequences of long-term unemployment; and a co-op structure that empowers those workers by allowing them to buy into the company if they so wish, and share in its achievements. Another venture, “Haricot Magique”, offers Belgium’s first “Café Poussette”, a kids- and pram-friendly coffee shop with an indoor parking area for baby strollers, a children’s boutique, and a series of workshops on storytelling, music appreciation, arts and crafts, and sign language for babies, among others.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for “BRUSOC Objectif 2013” was EUR 5 637 188, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 2 960 316 from the “Brussels Capital Region” Operational Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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