The total number of start-up companies established in Belgium in 2019 increased over previous years, according to figures from the Neutral Union of the Self-Employed (SNI/NSZ).
According to the union, 2019 saw the arrival of 119,246 new companies across the country, an increase of 4% over 2018. The total comprises actual start-ups until 26 December and an estimate for the last days of the year.
The positive result, however, is entirely attributable to Flanders, where the number of new start-ups rose by 8% to 70,689. Wallonia saw a very slight drop of 0.4% to 27,847, and Brussels fell by 5.4% to 14,491 – despite having been named earlier in the year as one of the most attractive cities in Europe for start-ups by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, ahead of Paris, Berlin and London.
No fewer than 90% of Brussels-based start-ups polled by the study rated Brussels as “a great place to do business,” while 87% were happy with the excellent IT infrastructure and start-up coaching on offer.
According to Christine Mattheeuws, president of the SNI, “This country remains a land of entrepreneurs, but we have to remain on our guard. The number of companies stopping trading also increased, by 6% this year. That was particularly the case in the retail, food and drink, construction and services sectors, where we counted a large number of bankruptcies and companies giving up.”
High wage costs and low margins are the main reasons for business failures, and those are the sectors most likely to suffer those problems. Even though the number of entrepreneurs is seeing continuing net growth across the three regions, the SNI is calling on the creation of a new government supportive of enterprise to put the brakes on failures.
“A government which can further reduce wage costs, and which will make an issue of a real indemnity is case of the stopping of business activity in cases where there are problems.”
The numbers for the whole country stand at 89,208 in 2019, compared to 84,406 in 2018. That represents an increase in failures of 7% in Flanders, 3% in Wallonia and 7% in Brussels.
The Brussels Times