Why is the SME strategy important?
During our country tour with the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry this spring, we asked over 1,000 entrepreneurs and trade organisations about the challenges they were facing, and also involved key players (Ministry of Finance, MNB, the National Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers, the Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists, the National Federation of Hungarian Building Contractors, and the OECD) in the consultation process. This resulted in an economic development action plan that integrates several new concepts and creates a comprehensive and single framework for government SME support.
When can we say that the strategy implementation has been a success?
It is equally important to establish a community of internationally successful, dynamic Hungarian entreprises as it is to strengthen the functioning and social organizing role of a stable community of small entreprises that provide a livelihood for many people. These results will become truly visible in everyday life if the growth rate of the Hungarian economy continues to be notably higher than the average growth rate of the EU.
In what respect do SMEs expect support from the government?
One of the main tasks is eliminating the obstacles to the thriving of SMEs (reducing taxes, paperwork, and increasing the quality of the available workforce), while the other is actively strengthening them (funding, consulting, facilitation of succession, etc.).
So there’s a lot to be done...
...and we have to work together to get it done. What we would like to achieve is to create a system that holds the hands of enterprises when they come to the state with their problems, and helps them find the answers to their questions. In other words, if a company has a good idea, then the institutional system should be able to contribute to the development of its organisation through the necessary consulting, and then to offer tailored loans with low interest rates or capital sources to support them in product development as well as in entering the market and competing with international players. In addition to building the institutional framework, our work also focuses on “developing our own product”. We are setting up programmes that contribute to the creation of added value in Hungary, the adaptation of technologies, increasing productivity, so basically everything required to keep jobs and profits in Hungary.
So is there a need for an “SME Agency”?
I think that it is indispensable for success. Just like the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has gained widespread international recognition and plays a major role in attracting foreign capital by offering quick, business-friendly, and complex support while keeping Hungarian interests in mind, Hungarian SMEs also require a similar player.
Are there any specific programmes you would mention?
In accordance with the objectives of the SME Strategy, a total of HUF 167.5 billion (consisting of HUF 90.84 billion in non-refundable and HUF in 76.7 refundable funds) will be available to SMEs in 2019-2020. In addition to the Supplier Development Programme and the 2019 Irinyi Aid Scheme funded from the central budget, we have also disclosed several EU-funded calls aiming at companies in a special situation or in special market segments. If I were to mention only one programme, then it would be the Magyar Multi Program (Hungarian Multinational Programme), which supports fast-growing companies with consulting services and assets, through another program based on it, in order to keep our most promising companies in Hungarian ownership and to ensure them in further growth, international expansion, and eventually going public.