Advice and coaching for sustainable business start-ups in the Brandenburg region

RegioStars 2012 FinalistA concerted programme has been developed in Germany’s Brandenburg region to support job-creating start-up businesses through a comprehensive range of advisory and counselling services targeted at different types of potential entrepreneurs. It is based on successful experience of a 10-year pilot programme.

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With the support of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Federal State – or Land – of Brandenburg, a programme is being implemented to advise, train and coach potential entrepreneurs in launching and running a sustainable business. It also covers training for the succession of existing businesses.

Based on a successful pilot programme, the scheme being run by the Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs, Women and Family (MASF) is targeted at a range of different groups. These include young people (under the age of 28), people from an academic background, immigrants, advanced coaching for innovation start-ups and training for the ownership succession of existing companies.

Comprehensive advisory service under one roof

The business start-up programme brings together under one roof a comprehensive advisory service for new companies in the region. The programme is supported by the ‘Founders Network Brandenburg’, a local network which includes chambers of commerce, trade associations, federations of self-employed, employment agencies, job centres and promoters of economic development.

For individuals without a job, being self-employed is a viable alternative to regular employment. Under the programme, mentors and external advisers are available to support the founders, identifying and providing the required training at the start of self-employment. Once the business has been launched the advisory services continue to be available in support of those making the transition.

‘Innovation needs courage’

Special attention is given to high-tech start-ups with the slogan: ‘Innovation needs courage’. Often these projects are complex and ambitious and demand an increased mentoring effort.

The ownership succession of existing businesses is also targeted for support. The main goal is the well-timed and successful business transfer, which ensures the training of the new managers and the protection of jobs.

Between 2001 and 2009, Brandenburg’s support services counselled more than 11 000 potential founders. Of these, some 74 % took the step to become self-employed. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of self-employed persons in Brandenburg increased from 104 000 to 129 640 (an increase of 10.5 % to 12.3 % of the total workforce). During this period some 9 700 business start-ups and business transfers were realised with the support of Brandenburg’s start-up services.

An evaluation of the supported services undertaken in 2005 pointed to the long-term sustainability of the new companies created.

Individuals counselled by the services have demonstrated significantly better business performance than unsupported founders, creating businesses that remain longer in the market, create more jobs, and plan higher investments.

Total and EU funding

The project “Orientation and guidance services for start-ups in Brandenburg” has a total eligible budget of EUR 7 550 000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 5 620 000 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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