The number of international self-employed people in Belgium has increased by one-third over the past five years – considerably faster than the number of Belgian ones, according to an analysis by entrepreneurs’ organisation NSZ.
In 2021, foreign nationals represented 13% of the total number of self-employed people in Belgium – some 160,839 out of 1,23 million. The NSZ called it a “spectacular increase” compared to 2017, as the number of international self-employed people has gone up by 34% in five years while the total number only increased by 13%.
The main nationalities of self-employed people setting up a business in Belgium have largely remained the same, though Romanian ones are on the rise. In 2017, the largest number of international self-employed people was Romanian, but their share has increased by almost 60% in the past five years to over 40,000 workers.
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In second place are the Dutch, good for 12.3% of all foreign self-employed workers, followed by the French, who amount to 11.5%.
The rise in people choosing to set up their own businesses can be explained as a consequence of Covid-19, which led to many workers losing their jobs – forcing them to seek other employment solutions.
Meanwhile, the increase in teleworking and growing possibilities of working remotely has inspired many to ditch the office and work independently from wherever they want, leading to an increasing number of digital nomads who tend to work on a freelance basis.