Tom Baumert (House of Entrepreneurship/Chamber of Commerce): Protecting Entrepreneurship
Tom Baumert, Director Entrepreneurship at the Chamber of Commerce, describes the range of COVID-19 measures put in place by the House of Entrepreneurship and the institution's ongoing efforts to simplify the administrative and regulatory burdens for entrepreneurship.
Could you describe the House of Entrepreneurship in a few words?
The main mission of the House of Entrepreneurship is business support, i.e. to offer future entrepreneurs and established business leaders a range of services aimed at making life easier and enabling them to develop their businesses.
It offers a 360-degree service, including: informing and guiding entrepreneurs in their journey; connecting them to the local network; encouraging the development of entrepreneurial skills through personal support and detecting existing difficulties through coaching; raising awareness among SMEs about digitalisation and the implementation of digital tools; encouraging investment in SMEs via bank guarantees through trusted partnerships; ensuring the sustainability of existing businesses through support in takeovers and offering a transmission platform; and finally, assisting businesses in export with formalities.
“Today more than ever, solidarity is essential to help businesses overcome the ordeals they are going through.”
How does the House of Entrepreneurship support entrepreneurs in the face of the COVID-19 crisis ?
At the beginning of the pandemic and in order to help businesses face financial difficulties - especially liquidity problems - a specific bond in the form of a guarantee that the Chamber of Commerce offers via the Mutualité de Cautionnement was set up. This bank guarantee applies to businesses that need an increase in their line of credit or a bank loan. It represents 50% of the amount requested and covers a maximum amount of EUR 250,000 per guarantee. A second measure has also been put in place, which is a new helpline that provides businesses with information in real time. Since 16 March, advisers at the House of Entrepreneurship have been answering various questions from businesses on topics such as partial unemployment or state aid.
With the support of the Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, the clc, and in partnership with the Ministry of the Economy, Horesca, ADEM and FEDIL, the House of Entrepreneurship has also launched JobSwitch, which is a platform for putting businesses with a need for manpower in contact with unemployed or partially unemployed people and self-employed people looking for work.
The House of Entrepreneurship has also reorganised itself to maintain its services and support businesses in this period of crisis. In the coming weeks, there will be lots of digital workshops online! All of the usual services are also digitally accessible and the House of Entrepreneurship can still be contacted for any administrative procedures, including authorisation requests and VAT or social security questions, etc. In addition, the establishment of export-related documents, such as certificates of origin and ‘Luxtrust’ certificates, can still be requested.
After having set up these numerous emergency measures to support businesses whose operations are fundamentally disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, the House of Entrepreneurship of the Chamber of Commerce is also extending its range of services with the #ReAct project, the aim of which is to enable businesses to deal as effectively as possible with the consequences of the COVID-19 health crisis and to identify strategic avenues that will enable them to restart their business. #ReAct supports entrepreneurs who are looking for active listening and strategic support in managing this crisis period, but also in relaunching their activity. Today more than ever, solidarity is essential to help businesses overcome the ordeals they are going through.
What challenges and opportunities do you identify for entrepreneurship in Luxembourg over the next 5 years ?
The Entrepreneurship Department of the Chamber of Commerce is not only committed to promoting and improving the entrepreneurial environment, but also believes that an entrepreneurial ecosystem and especially a startup ecosystem need a legal framework that facilitates their progress. Given the current situation, in the short term, entrepreneurs will have to face liquidity and business recovery problems. In the longer term, one of the major challenges will be to foster investment for startups and early stage businesses, so that we can continue to develop our ecosystem. For example, a tax shelter, which already exists in many European countries, could encourage investment in innovative startups. Finally, we advocate that legislative procedures should fully integrate the concept of ‘think small first’. Laws and procedures are too often very complex and above all too costly for small structures and can thus jeopardise their business. Therefore, our mission is also to simplify administrative and regulatory burdens in favour of entrepreneurship. The digitalisation of services will also play a key role in the coming months and years. Taking into account the ever-increasing challenges (competition, digitalisation, globalisation) that managers face - regardless of the stage of their company: startup, in development, stagnation, or periods of difficulty - the House of Entrepreneurship works constantly on consolidating its offers of support to provide business leaders with true 360-degree support.
Tel: (+352) 42 39 39 - 445
Phone: (+352) 42 39 39 - 720
House of Entrepreneurship:
Phone: (+352) 42 39 39 - 330
Phone: (+352) 42 39 39 - 850