EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Italy: ERM comparative analytical report on Public support instruments to support self-employment and job creation in one-person and micro enterprises

  • Observatory: EMCC
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 12 January 2012



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Italy
Author:
dcoletto
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Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The Italian productive system is distinguished by its high number of self-employed workers and micro enterprises with fewer than 10 employees. Measures to support entrepreneurship have been enacted since the second post-war period. Since the 1990s the introduction of specific financing instruments for youth and female entrepreneurship has been a significant aspect of active labour policies. In general, one of the main obstacles to new-firm creation has been the excessively complex bureaucratic procedures required. The economic crisis that began in 2008 has prompted the activation of national and, in some cases regional, instruments to reduce the structural problems that afflict the Italian economic system: the national government and the regions have already financed instruments, and they anticipate specific ones to facilitate entrepreneurship, especially in areas characterised by high unemployment rates and long-term unemployment.

QUESTIONNAIREPart 1: Overall policy context

This section aims at giving a brief overview of the general development and status quo of the policy discussion and thereof resulting instruments, measures or initiatives in the field of fostering self-employment and job creation in one-person and micro enterprises (less than 10 employees). Focus is mainly on the developments during the last decade, that is before the global recession. In addition we are asking for your indication of change of policy focus since the recession.

1. General policy approach in the area of self-employment, one-person and micro enterprises at the national level 1.1. Has there been a policy focus/debate on the specific challenges facing entrepreneurship as tool for job creation before the global recession? If so, since when and for how long?

Table 1: Presence of policy focus/debate on entrepreneurship as facilitation for job creation before the crisis
 

Yes, continuously since x? (Please indicate year)

Yes, on and off in the last 10 years

(Please indicate ‘X’ where it applies)

Yes, has been in focus, but since xx it is no longer part of the policy focus (Please indicate year)

No, it has never had policy focus before the recession

(Please indicate ‘X’ where it applies)

Self-employment

X (1996)

     
Hiring the first employee

X (1996)

     
Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises

X (1996)

     

In Italy, small-scale entrepreneurship and self-employment have long characterised the country’s entire productive system. In general, measures to support entrepreneurship were essentially of two types: simplification of administrative procedures, and the provision of incentives and loans for business start-ups. Moreover, they were targeted mainly at certain categories of people (women, young people) and areas of higher unemployment.

Let’s show some examples. After the creation of the development bank for South regions (Cassa per il Mezzogiorno) and the establishment of funds for extraordinary works of public interest in economically depressed areas (Laws 646 and 647 of 10 August 1950), further funding was allocated by the Italian state to new-firm creation, especially in areas of the country still afflicted by severe economic underdevelopment.

More recent years have seen an increase in government initiatives for self-employment. At the beginning of the 2000s, the legislative decree 185/2000 sets out a series of measures intended to promote and support new entrepreneurial initiatives in the form of self-employment and micro enterprises. The decree provides for two different types of incentives: start-up incentives (autoimprenditorialità) and incentives to self-employment (autoimpiego). Moreover, the decree introduced relevant changes to the so-called “prestito d’onore” (loan of honour): a grant by the Italian state – introduced in 1996 (law 608/1996) - for the creation of small firms taking the form of either partnerships or one-person firms. The changes gave the prestito d’onore the further purpose of supporting policies for territorial and/or sectoral development. To be stressed is that this instrument performed a function and had aims that were not narrowly restricted to the economic sphere. It also, and primarily, served as an active labour policy measure. Over the years, the prestito d’onore has moved through various phases:


  • start-up phase from 1996 to 1998, characterized by strong interest and a highly variable number of applications.
  • consolidation and expansion phase from 1999 to 2002. In this phase the greatest amount of project proposals were submitted.
  • maturity phase since 2003, with a proliferation of similar instruments, albeit with much more limited impact, within the regional planning.

In order to promote investments in Italy and to support entrepreneurship in 2000 the Italian government reformed the public agency for development (Sviluppo Italia), creating Invitalia, Agenzia nazionale per l’attrazione degli investimenti e lo sviluppo. Invitalia is a public agency that collects applications and issues grants for business activities, including self-employment and micro entrepreneurial projects. During the 2000s, its action was mainly directed to promote business activities in the regions of southern Italy, for long affected by high rates of long-term unemployment, widespread inactivity, and a large underground economy. Its priority objectives are: (1) to increase the attraction of foreign investments; (2) to support the innovation and growth of the production system; and (3) to boost local economic development.

In particular, Invitalia manages the procedures introduced by the decree 185/2000 in order to promote self-employment and micro enterprises’ activities (start-ups). In these cases, the purpose of the agency is support the start-up of small businesses (also in associative form) by unemployed persons or first-job seekers through funding for the creation of self-employment or micro enterprises (in the form of partnerships). In the self-employment case, amounts are not greater than € 25,823, in the micro enterprise case, amounts are not greater than € 129,114. The main forms of subsidies include:


  • Capital grants; 50% as a free grant, and 50% as subsidised loan (in the form of lower-than-market interest rates on the loan obtained).
  • Operating grants; they include grants to cover operating expenditures.

Moreover, the agency provides for technical and management services. Subsidies are awarded by evaluation procedures based on economic, financial and technical criteria. The evaluation procedures are managed by Invitalia.

As already said, grants are distinguished between those for self-employment and for micro enterprises. Since 2001, grants have been available for franchised activities, although they have been limited: between 2001 and 2010, 3,061 funding applications were received with the overall disbursement of € 55,893,995 (i.e. just 1.6% of the total funding allocated between 1996 and 2010. Invitalia data).

1.2. What is the main focus in policy documents or strategies in relation to public or social partner based support instruments for fostering self-employment or job creation in one-person and micro enterprises? (Please indicate ‘X’, multiple answers possible)

Table 2: Main focus in the policy documents or strategies
 

Entrepreneurship (Business development in general)

Job creation (Employment)

Growth (Competitiveness)

Others (please specify)

Self-employment

X

X

X

 
Hiring the first employee

X

X

X

 
Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises

X

X

X

 

1.3. Please elaborate on the answer given above (with a focus on those developments aimed at employment creation and growth) and indicate if the financial recession has caused a change of focus:

As said in the section 1.1, since 2000, in Italy there are a specific law and a public agency with the aim to support self-employment and micro enterprise activities.

In order to tackle the negative effects on employment due to the recent economic crisis, in 2009 the Italian government approved the law 2/2009, entitled Urgent Measures to Support Families, Work, Employment and Firms and to Revise the National Strategic Framework to Combat the Crisis (Misure urgenti per il sostegno a famiglie, lavoro, occupazione e impresa e per ridisegnare in funzione anti-crisi il quadro strategico nazionale). The law temporary extends the traditional system of social shock absorbers (of which the main measures are: ordinary and extraordinary Wages Guarantee Funds, mobility allowances and unemployment benefits) to enterprises and workers previously excluded: industrial firms with fewer than 15 employees, commercial ones with fewer than 50 employees, crafts firms, cooperatives, employees with temporary contracts, home workers and members of cooperatives. National and local authorities, as well as social partners, participated both in the definition of the measure, and in its application.

Few months after the law 2/2009, the Italian government approved the legislative decree 78/2009, which introduced temporary incentives to support new self-employment and entrepreneurial activities. These incentives are related to the measures provided by the law 2/2009. The measure envisages incentives for workers who benefit from any form of Wage Guarantee Fund, mobility allowances or unemployment allowances, and submit a project concerning self-employment or entrepreneurial activities to the National Institute of Social Insurance (Istituto nazionale di previdenza sociale, Inps). The incentives are composed of approved monthly income supports envisaged by the social shock absorbers measures and they are paid out in two tranches: 25% of the total amount after the submission of application and 75% of the total amount after the authorisation provided by Inps. Workers who start new entrepreneurial or self-employment activities may access to subsidised loans and tax credits.

The temporary measures provided by the law 2/2009 and by the legislative decree 78/2009 were confirmed also for 2011.

Moreover, at the end of May 2010, the Italian government approved the legislative decree 78/2010, which introduces urgent measures “in order to promote financial stability and economic competitiveness”. The decree envisages temporary measures with the aim to create new enterprises in southern Italy, with zero taxation on production activities, and fiscal and administrative benefits for enterprise networks (IT1008019I).

At company level, some recent agreements on restructuring plans introduced measures to promote start-ups of self-employment or micro entrepreneurial activities by redundant workers (see, for instance, IT1104019I).

2. Disincentives for self-employment and job creation

The following two questions will investigate whether there has been a change in the political agenda which has forced new political initiatives that may result in disincentives for job creation and business development (e.g. considerations regarding public budget).

2.1 Have public measures (e.g. with the aim to increase public revenue or cut public spending) led to disincentives for self-employment or job creation in one-person or micro enterprises before the financial recession? (Please briefly describe the major developments/initiatives (max. 300 words)

There have been no disincentive effects on the creation of self-employment or new jobs in small firms.

2.2 Have public measures (e.g. with the aim to increase public revenue or cut public spending) led to disincentives for self-employment or job creation in one-person or micro enterprises as a result of the financial recession? (Please describe – max. 300 words)

There have been no disincentive effects on the creation of self-employment or new jobs in small firms.

3. Representation of/lobbying for self-employed and micro enterprises

Are self-employed and micro enterprises in your national context explicitly or implicitly (e.g. entrepreneurs or SMEs in general) represented by the following types of organisations (e.g. for lobbying, defending their interest etc.)?

Table 4: Representation of self-employed and micro enterprises
 

Self-employed

Micro enterprises

Employers’ organisations

Yes, explicitly.

The National Confederation of Artisans and of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (Confederazione Nazionale dell’artigianato e della piccola media impresa, Cna); the General Italian Federation of Artisans (Confartigianato); the two main commerce employers’ associations (Confederazione Generale Italiana delle Imprese, delle attività Professionali e del Lavoro Autonomo, Confcommercio; and Confesercenti) the Autonomous Confederation of Artisan Unions (Confederazione autonoma sindacati artigiani, Casartigiani); the Italian Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Industry (Confederazione Italiana della piccola e media industria privata, Confapi); the Confederation of the Italian Cooperatives (Confederazione cooperative italiane, Confcooperative).

Yes, explicitly.

Cna; Confartigianato; Confcommercio; Confesercenti; Casartigiani; Confapi; Confcooperative.

Employees’ organisation

Yes, explicitly.

Association of consultants for advanced services activities (Associazione consulenti terziario avanzato, Acta); the Organisation New Employment Identities (Nuove Identità di Lavoro, Nidil-Cgil); Federation of Temporary, Atypical and Temporary Agency Workers (Federazione Lavoratori Somministrati Autonomi Atipici, Felsa-Cisl); Federation of Autonomous, Temporary and Atypical workers (Uiltemp-Uil); Union of Emerging Workers (Ale-Ugl).

Yes, implicitly.

The rank-and-file Union (Confederazione dei comitati di base, Cobas); the General Union of Labour (Unione generale del lavoro, Ugl).

Yes, explicitly

The General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione generale italiana del lavoro, Cgil); the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (Confederazione italiana sindacati lavoratori, Cisl); the Union of Italian Workers (Unione italiana del lavoro, Uil); Cobas; Ugl.

Not-for-profit organisations

Yes, implicitly.

Cgil; Cisl; Uil; Cobas; Ugl.

Yes, explicitly.

Cna; Confartigianato; Confcommercio; Confesercenti; Casartigiani; Confapi; Confcooperative.

Others    

With regard to the employers’ associations, self-employed and micro enterprises are mainly represented by associations of companies and self-employed workers operating in the commerce sector, and in the craft sector (IT1009039Q). In particular, small and micro companies are represented by the Italian Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Industry (Confederazione Italiana della piccola e media industria privata, Confapi).

Most part of these associations have their own representation offices in Brussels to facilitate and promote relations, proposals, and projects relative to Italian crafts firms and SMEs with the main EC institutions. Created for this precise purpose has been Italian Small Business in Europe (IBS), which represents numerous SME employers’ associations in Brussels.

In order to improve the “visibility” and representation of self-employed, micro and small enterprises, in May 2010 the Network of Italian Firms (Rete Imprese Italia) was created. It is a body representing the five main confederations promoting the interests of traders, artisans and small firms (Confcommercio, Confersercenti, Confartigianato, Cna and Casartigiani). These are organisations that jointly represent around 2 million firms (around 14 million employees, equal to 60% of the Italian labour force).

With regard to the trade unions, in the last years the main Italian confederations created ad hoc associations in order to represent self-employed, atypical workers and workers engaged in unregulated professional activities (IT0901029Q). Cgil, Cisl and Uil respectively created the Organisation New Employment Identities (Nidil-Cgil), the Federation of Temporary, Atypical and Temporary Agency Workers (Felsa-Cisl), and the Federation of Autonomous, Temporary and Atypical workers (Uiltemp-Uil). In particular, Felsa-Cisl was created in 2009 by a merger between the Association of atypical and temporary-agency workers (Associazione lavoratori atipici e interinali, Alai-Cisl) and the Coordination of Independent Workers in Commerce and Services (Coordinamento lavoratori autonomi del commercio e servizi, Clacs-Cisl). Moreover, in February 2010, the Cgil inaugurated its Consulta del Lavoro Professionale, a body representing professionals enrolled with the professional orders, workers engaged in unregulated professional activities, and self-employed workers economically dependent on a single contractor. This body has presented a first bargaining platform which proposes benefits (for illness, accident, pregnancy and unemployment) for professionals with 70% of their earnings from a single contractor; tax exemptions for individual workers with non-business VAT positions; and reform of the system of social shock absorbers.

In general, over the years, these associations have set up information bureaus, consultation and representation services. Recently, they have focused their actions on the promotion of measures aimed to (1) simplify administrative procedures; (2) support the start-up and consolidation of the business activity; and (3) support workers with new forms of income protection, in the case of temporary inactivity or cessation of activity, and new forms of social security and supplementary health insurance.

Part 2

The following section asks for the identification of public or social partner based support instruments initiated during or after the recent economic crisis (that is, 2008 onwards). These measures might have, but must not necessarily have been triggered by the recession. Measures may also have been initiated earlier, but changed in order to adapt to the recession or other recent developments. Rather than a comprehensive list of all instruments available at national, regional or local level, the most important, most innovative, most interesting and most effective tools are to be described. Thereof, a selection of up to three ‘Good Practices’ to be described in more detail is to be made.

1. Selection of region(s) when total coverage of the entire regional and local level is too comprehensive

When providing the brief overview and the three ‘Good Practices’ in this section of the questionnaire, measures and instruments at national level have to be included. We would in addition ask you to include regional and local level initiatives where relevant. Nonetheless, a complete coverage of regional and local levels may not be possible for all countries (e.g. because of a high degree of decentralisation resulting in a wide range of respective measures characterised by considerably heterogeneity). At the same time, it can be assumed that for instruments targeting at supporting self-employment and the creation of employment in one-person and micro enterprises the local administrative level is of considerable importance. If so, such measures will be designed to fit to the local characteristics and needs, resulting in a wide variety of different approaches. In this case, one or few local areas or regions may be selected to be covered in this report. Details on the selection are given in table 5.

Table 5: Administrative level/region(s) covered for the following research

Administrative level relevant for the rest of the questionnaire

Region

If a specific regional/local is selected, please provide the following information

Name of region

Puglia

Motivation for selecting this region

Since 2009, the region has enacted a package of anti-crisis measures to stimulate innovation and reduce the administrative burdens of newly-created firms. The extent of the financing and the degree of coverage of the initiatives make Puglia the first region in Italy for the quantity of funding allocated between 2008 and 2011. Grants have been issued particularly for the start-up of micro enterprises by disadvantaged persons, for help to newly-created innovative enterprises, and for anti-usury and anti-racket schemes.

In 2009-2010, the region introduced a series of firm-support measures through 18 different calls for applications. Almost 3,500 projects were judged eligible for funding, to a total of just over € 1.8 million, i.e. 3.4% of Puglia GDP.

In 2011, the region has issued its Work Plan (Piano per il lavoro), which allocates € 340 million among 52,035 potential recipients. In particular, reserved for employment creation are € 269.8 million (for 38,335 new jobs), while € 70.9 million are committed to employment protection (for 13,700 potential recipients). There are six areas of intervention: youth employment, female employment, social inclusion, equitable and sustainable development, development and innovation, and the fight against irregular and submerged work. The Plan is addressed to workers receiving redundancy benefits, workers in employment, atypical workers, firms, unemployed workers, unemployed women, female entrepreneurs, women in employment, unemployed young persons, apprentices, unemployed disabled persons, immigrants and asylum seekers, over fifty-year-olds, socially useful workers, young graduates, researchers, managers and entrepreneurs.

With regard to micro enterprises and small firms, since 2009 a specific programme has granted credit facilities to: (1) crafts enterprises, also taking the form of cooperatives or consortia; (2) enterprises that undertake investment in the commerce sector; (3) non-crafts firms operating in the manufacturing sector; (4) firms in the construction sector; (5) firms operating in the information and communication sector; (6) firms operating in child day-care services; (7) firms operating in non-residential services for the elderly and disabled; (8) firms that invest in playschools for children.

Facts about the region e.g.

- Geographic location

- No. of inhabitants

- Business structure (sector, size)

- Labour market

- Specific characteristics if applicable

The region of Puglia is situated in southern Italy. It has 4,090,877 inhabitants and a production system consisting of small and medium-sized enterprises operating in fishing, agriculture, and certain manufacturing sectors. In 2010, some 252,268 enterprises were active in the region, and employees number were 749,192 (Istat data). In some provinces of region, unemployment has reached around 18% of total employment (in 2010 the national average was 8.4% of total employment). The unemployment rate among young people aged between 15 and 24 exceeded 30% in almost all the Puglia provinces. Also irregular and underground employment is very widespread (Istat data).

   

Administrative level relevant for the rest of the questionnaire

Region

If a specific regional/local is selected, please provide the following information

Name of region

Lombardy

Motivation for selecting this region

Lombardy is the region of Italy with the highest GDP per inhabitant (Istat data). Manufacturing firms were particularly affected by the recent economic crisis. In 2009, the region introduced a number of anti-crisis measures. In 2011, a scheme has been devised to support firm start-ups by young people (aged 18-35), women (without age limit) and disadvantaged persons (considering as such workers unemployed for 24 months or no longer eligible for the Wages Guarantee Fund). The Region also approved the Artis project for crafts firms operating in the wood, common metals and metal alloys, textile fibres, precious metals, baking and ice-cream making sectors, with the aim to promote and support these economic activities. Moreover the Region administration has recently promoted a guarantee fund for firms which manufacture “made in Lombardy” products. The fund supports micro, small, medium-sized, and large firms belonging to the manufacturing sector and headquartered in Lombardy. The fund finances investment plans for competitive development, research, innovation, and modernisation aimed at process innovation and business development. The plans must be completed within 24 months from signature of the financial aid contract.

Facts about the region e.g.

- Geographic location

- No. of inhabitants

- Business structure (sector, size)

- Labour market

- Specific characteristics if applicable

The region of Lombardy is situated in northern Italy. It has 9,917,714 inhabitants and a production system consisting of manufacturing firms of various sizes. The region also has a highly developed the tertiary sector (large-scale distribution, logistics and advanced services). In 2009, firms operating in the various economic sectors were 818,924, and they represented 18% of Italian enterprises. Also the number of employees in the region was large: 3,973,300 (22% of the employees in Italian firms). In 2010, the unemployment rate was 5.6%, compared with the Italian average of 8.4% (Istat data).

   

It is important to notice that, as said in the previous section, the main measures to tackle the negative effects due to the economic crisis were included in the law 2/2009 on “Urgent measures to support families, work, employment and business, and to restructure the national strategic framework to combat the crisis”. The implementation of the law provided the active participation of local authorities (Regions and Provinces) and social partners. Bilateral agreements were signed between the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Regions on defining the criteria to access to the social shock absorbers “in derogation”. Then, in order to implement the contents of the previous agreements, framework agreements were signed between the Regions and the social partners. Each Region defined different procedures in order to mix passive and active labour policies. In general, also self-employed workers and micro entrepreneurs can benefit from these measures, even if with different procedures and coverage in comparison to dependent workers.

In general, in the last two years, many regions have launched labour and economic plans in order to cope with the negative effects that the economic crisis caused on the local employment and productive systems. At present, it is impossible to assess the effectiveness of these plans (included the Puglia and Lombardy plans) because of their implementation period is too short.

2. Brief overview of recent instruments to foster self-employment or job creation in one-person and micro enterprises

2.1. Please provide a brief description of public or social partner based instruments recently initiated (2008 onwards) to support self-employment and job creation in one-person or micro enterprises.

Measures covered by the European Employment Observatory Review on self-employment 2010, European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities are to be omitted to avoid duplication (see Part 3 of this questionnaire).

Table 6: List of recent instruments

Title

Aim/objective

Simplification and reduction of administrative burdens.

The one-stop counters for businesses (sportello unico delle attività produttive, SUAP) were created in order to simplify and accelerate administrative procedures.

Description of support

The one-stop counter for businesses is a service furnished by municipalities in order to simplify relations between firms and the public administrations. The service was instituted by D.Lgs. 112/1998, and is regulated by D.P.R. 447/1998 amended by D.P.R. 440/2000, implementing law 59/1997. The one-stop counter has been conceived as the sole interlocutor for firms with regard to all the administrative procedures that concern the running of a business. The counter unifies the procedures relative to the authorisations or licences necessary for the conduct of business and which are issued by different public bodies (including, for instance, the registration of newly hired employees to the National Social Security Institute, Inps). Firms are thus able to avoid wasting time on paperwork and the visits to different offices that were previously necessary.

The purpose of the one-stop counter is to simplify dialogue between the public administration and firms: it manages the entire procedure and coordinates the activities of the other offices of the public administration concerned. The one-stop counter undertakes activities concerning information, coordination, and the issue of authorizations to start up, modify, or cease production activities in crafts, industry, commerce, agriculture, tourism, and services. One-stop counters deal with the following specific phases in the life of a firm: location, creation, restructuring, expansion, closure, resumption or conversion of production.

However, practical difficulties due to numerous problems of coordination among administrations, and the scant use of IT technology by local administrations, reduces the efficiency of one-stop counters (Facchini, 2010).

In 2010, the one-stop counters normative was reformed (DPR n. 159 07/09/2010). The reform envisaged that all the procedures shall be exclusively implemented on-line. Moreover, a web network will be implemented in order to exchange information between the administrations and other bodies concerned (included the business agencies which undertake preliminary investigation and certification).

Target group

All Italian citizens or corporate entities (firms, companies, cooperatives, etc.) of EU or non-EU countries interested in locating, establishing, restructuring, expanding, closing, reactivating, or converting establishments producing goods and services or to execute work within the latter, and whoever has stakes in them.

Initiator and other actors involved

State, municipalities and firms.

Duration (please also indicate whether the measures has been initiated due to the recession)

The one-stop counter service was introduced 1998, but only in 2010 was it simplified to increase its effectiveness and efficiency. The last reform was defined and implemented with the aim to support firms, especially during the recent economic crisis.

Title

Aim/objective

Simplification and reduction of administrative burdens.

ComUnica enables firms to fulfil their legal obligations towards Chambers of Commerce, Inps, the National Workplace Accident Insurance Institute (Istituto nazionale assicurazione infortuni sul lavoro, Inail), and the Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle entrate) by forwarding the Single Notice (Comunicazione Unica, ComUnica) to a single recipient who transmits to the other public agencies the information that concerns them.

Description of support

The Comunicazione unica instrument unifies communication of the obligations incumbent on firms (start ups), which were previously divided among four different public agencies: the Italian Revenue Agency, Inail, Inps, and the Chambers of Commerce.

The Comunicazione unica enables firms to: (1) request a tax code and a VAT number; (2) open an insurance position with Inail; (3) apply for registration with Inps of employees or self-employed workers; (4) apply for enrolment on the Register of Enterprises maintained by the Chambers of Commerce.

All obligations can be fulfilled via a single online website: the Register of Enterprises, which has become the one-stop counter handling the Comunicazione unica, a single digital file containing information for all four of the public agencies. The project is part of the “Impresainungiorno” policies promoted by the Ministry for Economic Development.

New online procedures envisage the use of a free software programme, called “ComUnica Impresa” (or simply ComUnica), which guides the user in compiling the Comunicazione Unica for firm start-up (and subsequent variations and cancellation). This communication is valid for fiscal, social security and insurance purposes.

Target group

All Italian citizens or corporate entities (firms, companies, cooperatives, etc.) of EU or non-EU countries which must notify registration or variations of business data.

Initiator and other actors involved

Chambers of Commerce and firms

Duration (please also indicate whether the measures has been initiated due to the recession)

Use of the Comunicazione Unica has been obligatory for all firms since 1 April 2010. Also in this case, the last reform was defined and implemented with the aim to support firms, especially during the recent economic crisis.

The first phase of the computerization of procedures and communications has concerned only one-person enterprises. The system’s extension to all firms is expected by the end of 2011.

Title

Credit Guarantee Fund for SMEs (Fondo di garanzia sul credito alle Piccole e Medie Imprese)

Aim/objective

The Credit Guarantee Fund for SMEs has been created to facilitate access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises through the concession of a public guarantee, which flanks and often replaces the real guarantees furnished by enterprises.

Description of support

The Fund performs an important leveraging function by acting as a multiplier of public resources, so that it is an effective industrial policy instrument with a costs/benefits ratio higher than any other similar instrument: every € 1 in the Fund’s endowment yields € 16 for the entrepreneurial system. It is a rotating fund, which is self-fuelling because of the gradual reimbursement of the financings and able to furnish guarantees for a large number of enterprises. On applying to the Fund, therefore, SMEs do not receive a sum of money but they have real possibilities to obtain financing without additional guarantees on the sums guaranteed by the Fund. The latter covers up to 60% (or 80% in some cases) of the financing requested, for a maximum of € 1.5 million.

To obtain the guarantee, the enterprise must go to a bank and request that the financing be covered by the Fund’s guarantee rather than by other guarantors. Alternatively the enterprise can apply to the Confidi system, which provides funds for grants to SMEs. Once the bank has received the application for financing, it conducts its own inquiries for issue of the sum requested. Having acquired the requisite information, the bank compiles the application for admission to the guarantee on forms available from the Guarantee Fund’s website by inserting data from the firm’s last two approved balance sheets or tax declaration and an updated accounting statement. On conclusion of the inquiry, the Fund Manager submits the operation for approval by the Committee and notifies via fax the applicant (the bank) and the beneficiary of the Committee’s decision (concession or rejection of the guarantee), stating the amount of the financing guaranteed and also the relative maximum aid intensity.

The guaranteed amounts: an enterprise may receive a guaranteed maximum amount equal to € 1.5 million. This figure refers to the financial statement on the date of submission of the application, taking account of the capital shares already reimbursed. Enterprises may benefit from intervention by the Fund for every type of financial requirement. Guarantees can be provided for any type of operation, provided that it directly concerns business activity: leasing operations, medium-to-long term financing, purchases of shareholdings, participatory loans, and other operations, such as, short-term financing, consolidation, guarantees, medium-to-long term liquidity financing.

At the beginning of February 2011, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Association of Banking Institutes and the main employers’ associations reached an agreement on credit for SMEs, which in some cases extends the duration of medium-to-long term financing, the coverage of interest rate risk, and financing connected with increases in capital.

Target group

The beneficiaries are small and medium-sized enterprises (as defined by Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003), including crafts firms, operating in Italy, economically healthy and belonging to any sector except ones pointed by the European Union. The criteria used to assess whether SMEs are financially and economically healthy – which were modified in November 2009 - are calculated so as to maintain a low (approximately 2%) rate of default and to allow healthy enterprises, in difficulties because of a difficult economic conjuncture, to access the instrument. Also foreseen is access to the fund by categories previously excluded (crafts firms, cooperatives, road haulage firms).

Initiator and other actors involved

Government (and, specifically, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development) and the Association of Banking Institutes (Abi).

Duration (please also indicate whether the measures has been initiated due to the recession)

A first guarantee fund for SMEs was created in 1996 (the so-called Central Guarantee Fund for SMEs). The current guarantee fund operates according to a decree approved in November 2010 by the Ministry of Economic Development.

2.2. In-depth description of “Good Practices”.

In Italy, the main policy measures to support self-employment and entrepreneurial activities are included in the decree 185/2000. Also regional and local policies to support self-employment often refer to the instruments provided by the decree. In order to avoid duplication of information in this section we will briefly describe some ‘successful cases’ concerning self-employed workers and small or micro entrepreneurs who benefitted from measures provided by the decree 185/2000. Invitalia - the main Italian public agency with the aim to promote investments in Italy and to support entrepreneurship – suggested the ‘successful cases’ included in this report. According to the public agency, they may be envisaged ‘successful cases’ not only from an economic point of view. In fact, in these cases, the support instruments provided by law enabled the survival of traditional craft activities.

Table 7: Description of “Good Practice” examples of recent support instruments

Name of the programme/instrument

Support for new entrepreneurial activities, according to the decree 185/2000

Is the instrument explicitly addressing any of the following:

Self-employment

Hiring the first employee

Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises

Please ‘X’ and/or describe if relevant

x

x

x

Operational level

Local

Regional

National

Please ‘X’ and/or describe if relevant

x

 

x

Rationale/motivation for the instrument

(please describe)

Business start-up as a form of micro-enterprise.

Purpose and aims for the instrument (please describe)

Davide Finoia decided to apply for financing because he wanted to turn a hobby into a business. The initiative proposed was a brewery producing beer with traditional methods and skills using high-quality raw materials. This is a product created with centuries-old traditional processes but in compliance with safety and hygiene legislation. Particular attention is paid to the distribution of products with temperature-controlled vehicles across a limited supply area so as to guarantee delivery to the final consumer of a high-quality product, which is always fresh and available on the local market.

Initiator Social partners Public authorities Non-for-profit Others
Please ‘X’      
Other stakeholders actively involved in implementation (please name them and describe their roles)  
Target groups        
Please describe the target groups (sector, age, level of education, gender)
Funding        
Please describe the funding of the instrument/programme (national and European sources, budget available)

As said in the previously sections, the instrument for micro-enterprise is contained in decree 185/2000. It is managed throughout the country by Invitalia. The purpose of this tool is to support the start-up of small businesses by unemployed persons or first-job seekers through funding for the creation of micro-enterprises.

In this specific case, Invitalia financed for a amount of € 128,229.

Activities    
Please describe the activities of the programme or institutional initiative as detailed as possible

To access the instrument, it is necessary to submit an application giving information concerning the applicant firm and the business plan; attachments attesting the fulfilment of legal requirements and compliance with the regulations on confidentiality on anti-money laundering. The evaluation procedure concerns both fulfilment of these requirements and the technical-economic feasibility of the initiative. The procedure is concluded within the time limit of six months from the date of receipt of the application, or of the supplementary documentation requested.

In order to define his proposal, Davide Finoia accessed a business programme course and to support services (such as marketing and financial assistance) provided by Invitalia. After the approval of his project, he accessed to finance support measures managed by Invitalia.

Results (Effectiveness)      
Please describe the results e.g. number of beneficiaries, advised enterprises
Challenges in order to reach the objectives e.g. for the organisation offering the instrument, the entrepreneurs (Please describe); and if available how these have been overcome
Assessments of the effectiveness e.g. investments made in order to reach the objectives of the programme (outcome vs. investment) (Please base this assessment on evaluations when possible)

Invitalia experts consider the case a success because of the specificity of the product produced by the micro-enterprise that received financing.

Outcomes (Efficiency)  
Increasing self-employment, growth and employment e.g. number of start-up and/or jobs created etc. (please describe, preferably based on evaluations, otherwise on experts’ assessment) As said in the first section, the decree 185/2000 provides the main measures in order to promote self-employment and micro enterprises activities.
Please provide link to evaluation documents if possible

Name of the programme/instrument

Support for new self-employment activities, according to the legislative decree 185/2000

Is the instrument explicitly addressing any of the following:

Self-employment

Hiring the first employee

Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises

Please ‘X’ and/or describe if relevant

x

   

Operational level

Local

Regional

National

Please ‘X’ and/or describe if relevant

x

 

x

Rationale/motivation for the instrument

(please describe)

Purpose and aims for the instrument (please describe)
Initiator
Please ‘X’      
Other stakeholders actively involved in implementation (please name them and describe their roles)  
Target groups        
Please describe the target groups (sector, age, level of education, gender)
Funding        
Please describe the funding of the instrument/programme (national and European sources, budget available)
Activities    
Please describe the activities of the programme or institutional initiative as detailed as possible
Results (Effectiveness)      
Please describe the results e.g. number of beneficiaries, advised enterprises
Challenges in order to reach the objectives e.g. for the organisation offering the instrument, the entrepreneurs (Please describe); and if available how these have been overcome Data not available.
Assessments of the effectiveness e.g. investments made in order to reach the objectives of the programme (outcome vs. investment) (Please base this assessment on evaluations when possible)
Outcomes (Efficiency)  
Increasing self-employment, growth and employment e.g. number of start-up and/or jobs created etc. (please describe, preferably based on evaluations, otherwise on experts’ assessment)
Please provide link to evaluation documents if possible  

Name of the programme/instrument

Support for new self-employment activities, according to the legislative decree 185/2000

Is the instrument explicitly addressing any of the following:

Self-employment

Hiring the first employee

Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises

Please ‘X’ and/or describe if relevant

x

   

Operational level

Local

Regional

National

Please ‘X’ and/or describe if relevant

x

 

x

Rationale/motivation for the instrument

(please describe)

Purpose and aims for the instrument (please describe)
Initiator
Please ‘X’      
Other stakeholders actively involved in implementation (please name them and describe their roles)  
Target groups        
Please describe the target groups (sector, age, level of education, gender)
Funding        
Please describe the funding of the instrument/programme (national and European sources, budget available)
Activities    
Please describe the activities of the programme or institutional initiative as detailed as possible
Results (Effectiveness)      
Please describe the results e.g. number of beneficiaries, advised enterprises
Challenges in order to reach the objectives e.g. for the organisation offering the instrument, the entrepreneurs (Please describe); and if available how these have been overcome Data not available.
Assessments of the effectiveness e.g. investments made in order to reach the objectives of the programme (outcome vs. investment) (Please base this assessment on evaluations when possible)
Outcomes (Efficiency)  
Increasing self-employment, growth and employment e.g. number of start-up and/or jobs created etc. (please describe, preferably based on evaluations, otherwise on experts’ assessment)
Please provide link to evaluation documents if possible

Part 3: Annex: Update on recent self-employment study

The recent European Employment Observatory Review on self-employment 2010, European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities provides insight into support instruments for self-employment. To avoid duplication of this information, we ask you as National Correspondent to omit these measures already covered in your research (Part 2 of this questionnaire), and only update or add any additional details or measures that exceed the information already provided in this report.

The European Employment Observatory Review on self-employment 2010 showed the main and most effective support instruments for self-employment provided in Italy. As said also in this report, the main measures aimed to promote self-employment and micro entrepreneurial activities (start-ups) are included in the decree 185/2000. Moreover, in the section 1.3, we have pointed out that the anti-crisis package (Law 2/2009 and the legislative decree 78/2009) introduced specific measures to support of self-employment and entrepreneurship during the economic crisis.

In general, during the years, the different procedures and instruments provided by the decree 185/2000 were able to adapt to the changes in the labour market and productive system. According to Invitalia data, in the last years, a relevant number of applications to start self-employment or micro entrepreneurial activities has come from young, female and migrant workers. There are various reasons that have pushed people to apply for self-employment or micro enterprises; these reasons are distributed throughout a continuum whose the two poles are represented by people who start self-employed activities in order to leave the unemployment (unemployment push) and people who opt for self-employment or micro entrepreneurial activities in order to improve their profit (prosperity pull). During the recent economic crisis, self-employment has further increased its importance as opportunity to avoid unemployment. According to Invitalia data, in 2010 the number of applications in order to access to the measures provided by the decree 185/2000 increased by 30% compared to the applications received in 2009.

Commentary

In general, Italy has been historically characterised by a large proportion of self-employment. This concerns a number of workers that, since the 1980s, has oscillated between four and five million units, in percentages between 20% and 25% of the total labour force (IT0801019Q).

Various measures aimed to support self-employment were promoted in 1970s and 1980s, but they were fragmented and occasional. Since 2000, the decree 185/2000 introduced the main measures to support self-employment and micro enterprises. During the recent economic crisis, the “unemployment push” role of self-employment and micro entrepreneurial activities has increased. Beyond the measures introduced by the decree 185/2000, various Regions have announced new “labour plans”, which envisage also measures to support and promote self-employment. Moreover, in some recent cases of restructuring, companies and social partners reached agreements that provide economic incentives and support services for redundant workers who want to start self-employment or micro entrepreneurial business activities (see, for instance, IT1104019I)

Tania Toffanin, Università degli Studi di Milano

References

Arrighetti A., Seravalli G. 1997. Istituzioni e dualismo dimensionale nell’industria italiana. In Barca F. (eds). Storia del capitalismo italiano. Roma: Donzelli.

Brancati R. (eds) 2007. L’offerta pubblica e la domanda dei privati. Le politiche per le imprese. Roma: Donzelli.

Facchini C. 2010. Lo sportello unico per le attività produttive. Semplificazione e promozione del territorio. Milano: Ipsoa, 2010.

Giannola A., Lopes A. 2007. Relazioni tra imprese e distretti industriali: luci e ombre di una storia italiana. In Lopes A., Macario F. and Mastroberardino P. Reti di imprese. Torino: Giappichelli.

Graziani A. 1998. Lo sviluppo dell’economia italiana dalla ricostruzione alla moneta europea. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

Onida F. 2004. Se il piccolo non cresce. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Weiss L. 1984. The Italian state and small business. In European Journal of Sociology, 2, pp. 214-241.



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