As the coronavirus pandemic forces Europeans to stay at home and leaves companies fretting about economic consequences, startup founders across the region are wondering what to do about cash, debt and staff.

Fundraising aside, attention is turning to day-to-day costs and cashflow.

“As always when the wind turns and skies turn grey, as a startup you need to mind your costs and come back to the basics of cash management,” says Albin Serviant, chief executive of company builder Founders Factory in Paris.

Advertisment Sifted newsletter ad

Governments across Europe have unveiled measures for companies, with some specific to small and medium-sized businesses, addressing concerns essentially about running out of cash, not being able to pay off debt and what to do with staff left idle.

Here’s a country-by-country roundup of government-backed resources for entrepreneurs dealing with the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

This is a living list: we’ll keep updating it as the situation develops. Thank you for your numerous contributions, and if we’re missing anything else, please let us know: [email protected].

France

Main resource: Government-backed startups agency La French Tech’s coronavirus guide.

Measures announced by government:

  • Social charges and tax payments due in March will be pushed back automatically.
  • Companies can request to defer payments of social charges and taxes beyond March.
  • If customers have owed you money for a while, you can ask for a mediator to be appointed to help you recover the funds.
  • If you can’t make debt payments or loan insurance fees, you can ask for a state-backed credit mediator to intervene in your favour and help convince your bank.
  • You can ask for a loan directly from state-backed investor Bpifrance or ask for its backing as a guarantor to get a loan from your usual bank.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech on Monday evening that small and medium-sized companies facing difficulties would stop paying rent, electricity, gas and water bills.
  • Temporary unemployment measures will be extended to all companies, allowing them to cut back employees’ hours without straight layoffs. In short: if your company is suffering from a sharp decrease in activity, you can cut back on your employees’ hours worked per week. You keep paying them most of their full salary still and can apply for the government to reimburse at least part of that.
  • On March 25, France announced another set of measures aimed specifically at addressing financing issues, effectively bringing a €4b cash injection for startups.

Other useful resources:

Germany

Main resource: German startups association Bundesverband Deutsche Startups’s roundup on coronavirus

Measures announced by government:

  • Germany has pledged unlimited liquidity assistance to companies that need cash, in the form of loans provided by KfW, the state development bank.
  • Companies can request to defer tax payments.
  • Germany voted in a law expanding its short-time work scheme called Kurzarbeit. Under it, companies that implement reduced hours for their workers can receive state support. This gives businesses an alternative to straight firings.
  • There are plans to change bankruptcy rules, or at least suspend them for several months, to give companies more leeway on the obligation to file for bankruptcy.

Other useful resources:

Italy

Main resource: Italian startup association Italia StartUP’s SOS page for coronavirus.

Measures announced by government:

  • Companies can ask to suspend tax payments. Those earning under €2m revenue don’t have to pay taxes.
  • Liquidity assistance for small and medium companies by state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA.
  • State guarantee of up to €5m for small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Italy also announced mortgage suspension measures in accord with banks. Self-employed workers can ask to suspend or extend mortgage payments and other long-term loans.
  • Part of the stimulus package is dedicated to layoffs and preserving some income for people out of work.
  • The government has promised more measures to come, including support for investments.

Spain

Main resource: Startups association Barcelona Tech City’s page on coronavirus

Measures announced by government:

  • Possibility of deferring tax payments for small and medium businesses and the self-employed. To do that, you must follow the instructions released by the Spanish Tax Agency.
  • Payments can be postponed on loans granted by the General Secretariat for Industry
  • State-backed lender Instituto de Credito Oficial has been given extra means to hand out loans to companies and freelancers in the most affected sectors, including tourism and transport.

Other useful resources:

  • Spanish angel fund Encomenda hosted a webinar this week with advice for founders. Parts of it are summarised in tweets by Encomenda

UK

Main resourceThe government’s page for small businesses affected by coronavirus.

Measures announced by government:

  • Small companies which cannot afford to pay their tax bills can ask HM Revenue and Customs for a “time to pay” agreement which would suspend debt collection. During the coronavirus outbreak the usual 3.5% annual interest on deferred tax payments will be waived.
  • The government is offering to underwrite loans to businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme will be delivered by the British Business Bank, a state-owned wholesale bank.
  • Small companies will be able to reclaim the cost of 14 days of sick pay — just under £200 — per employee. However, the government has cautioned that they may have to wait months for reimbursement because it has yet to set up a repayment mechanism.
  • The smallest businesses in the country across all sectors of the economy will be able to seek grants worth £10,000.
  • The government on Tuesday said it would also provide tax breaks and other measures worth £20bn to protect companies and households suffering amid the economic collapse triggered by the virus. This could apply to startups.
  • The government also announced loans to support business with an initial £330bn of guarantees equivalent to 15% cent of UK GDP. Householders will get a three month mortgage policy, he said.

Ireland

Main resource: Scale Ireland’s list of go-tos (they’re a non-profit organisation supporting the development of Irish startups). 

Measures announced by government:

  • Revenue Commissioners are open to discussing deferring tax payments for businesses that are hit by coronavirus, after discussion.
  • Reduced work hours for employees possible. Government planning to refund employers who keep paying at least partial salaries during this time.
  • The Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1m. Applications through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.
  •  Loans for microenterprises from MicroFinance Ireland.
  • Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland is giving out loans of up to €1.5m through its €200m working capital scheme.
  • Rescue and restructuring scheme packages through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to transform their business.
  • Flat rate pay of €203 per week for six weeks for the self-employed who have lost business and those who have lost employment as a result of coronavirus.
  • Grants available from Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta for strategies of companies aimed at innovating, diversifying markets and supply chains, and improving competitiveness.

Other useful resources:

Portugal

Measures announced by government:

  • Extension of tax payment deadlines.
  • €200m credit line to support companies’ treasury needs.
  • €60m credit line for micro-enterprises in the tourism sector.
  • Support for maintaining employment contracts by taking on most of the cost of a worker’s salary, even if he or she is out of activity, so employers keep a lid on budgets.
  • A special budget to allow people who are out of a job to get some training.
  • Deferred payments on all contributions by self-employed people.

Useful resources:

  • Portuguese entrepreneurs have pulled together to create the tech4COVID19 movement, bringing innovation to fix the coronavirus crisis.

Sweden

Main resource: Ministry of Finance recap of government measures. Measures announced by government apply to companies depending on size and situation of the business.

Measures announced by government:

  • Central government to assume sick pay responsibility for two months.
  • Companies can defer payment of social security contributions, preliminary tax on salaries and value added tax for as long as 12 months. Companies that have paid tax for the first part of 2020 can have those amounts paid back to them from the Swedish Tax Agency.
  • Depending on cases, government will cover three quarters of the costs when staff working hours are reduced and they are temporarily out of work, so companies can retain staff.
  • Riksbank is loaning up to SEK 500bn to companies via the banks to safeguard the supply of credit.

Other useful resources:

  • Verksamt is compiling relevant information for businesses from various Swedish government agencies.
  • Compilation of state aid measures by local media Breakit.
  • Swedish entrepreneurs have started a Slack channel to exchange tips and feedback amongst themselves on coping with coronavirus. 
  • Accelerator Startup Sweden has a survey going for entrepreneurs to help pool their requests and relevant info and push it up to authorities.
  • Call for startups with coronavirus relevant projects, in an initiative from Norrsken, with support from the city of Stockholm.
  • The Swedish government-backed Agency for Economic and Regional Growth addresses questions about themes including financing, hiring, and letting people go.

Denmark

Main resource: Copenhagen Capacity, which supports entrepreneurs setting up in and around Copenhagen, is taking questions from entrepreneurs.

Measures announced by government:

  • If an employee is sick, the employer get reimbursed for wages and sickness benefits.
  • Companies can temporarily reduce the work hours of employees and get compensation for some of their pay, provided they avoid firings. Employees can get supplementary unemployment benefits.
  • Special budget for dealing with potential large-scale firings.

Other useful resources:

  • There’s also a government-backed hotline for businesses at +45 7220 0034.

Norway

Main resource: Oslo Business Region is compiling resources.

Finland

Main resource: Detail of measures by Bank of Finland (Finlands Bank).

Other useful resources:

Austria

Main resource: Austrian Economic Chambers

Measures announced by government:

The Netherlands

Main resource: The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce has put together an FAQ for entrepreneurs, and a roadmap for companies.

Measures announced by government: The detail of government measures listed here.

Other useful resources:

Belgium

Main resource: Federal and regional government measures in detail.

Other useful resources:

Iceland

Main resource: Icelandic government’s response package detail.

 

Remember, this is a living list: we’ll keep updating it as the situation develops. Please point us towards useful resources in your region: [email protected].

Join the conversation

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of