Over 1.2 million now self-employed in Belgium

Over 1.2 million now self-employed in Belgium
Credit: Belga / Paul-Henri Verlooy

Self-employment is once again on the rise in Belgium, with over 1.2 million (1,230,419) choosing to be self-employed in 2021.

The National Institute for Social Security of the Self-employed (NISSE) has published its annual report, which aims to quantify the self-employed sector of Belgium’s labour market.

Whether it be their gender, their age or their nationalities, here is a summary of the most interesting informations on the Belgian self-employed sector to come out of the NISSE’s report.

Key findings

As has been the case for the past 20 years, the report indicates an increase in self-employed workers.

In 2021, an additional 47,672 people became self-employed, which represented a 4% increase on 2020.

This was despite the 5,020 bankruptcies suffered by independent business in 2020. This number has however gone down to 4,513 in 2021.

Furthermore, of the 1.2 million self-employed workers, 795,291 identified as men and 435,128 as women.

Those whose their main activity is self-employed is up by 2.66% to 786,772, and those whose supplementary activity is self-employed now total 313,530, compared to 293,567 in 2020.

Age is nothing but a number

In addition, both self-employed students and those working after the age of retirement saw a rise in their numbers.

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9,114 students decided to become self-employed, which represented a 9% increase on 2020.

And those over the age of 65 who are now self-employed is up to 130,117 in 2021, a 6% rise on 2020’s figures.

An increasingly diverse crowd

For 2021, 160,839 of those self-employed were of foreign nationality, which implies a 7% increase over 2020.

Romania, the Netherlands, and France are the countries with the most people currently self-employed in Belgium.

Foreign workers also represented a fraction of those having just become self-employed in 2021, with 33,337 of them accounting for 26% of these so-called starters.

Overall, the number of ‘starters’ now stands at 127,976, an increase on 2020’s numbers.

Is it lucrative though?

The report sets out that the average income, which is used to calculate social security contributions for the self-employed, currently stands at €23,971.85 for 2021, a 9.93% increase over last year.

With fishing and liberal professions, i.e. any profession practised on the basis of acquired qualifications, earning the most amount of money for the self-employed.


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