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Few bankruptcies, but more and more entrepreneurs are asking for help

NOS News

  • Roeland Müller

    Economics Reporter

  • Roeland Müller

    Economics Reporter

Despite an economic recession, relatively few companies have still gone bankrupt since the corona crisis. But entrepreneurs do have problems: various aid organizations are increasingly seeing entrepreneurs knocking on their door.

Such as Over Rood, where entrepreneurs with problems are linked to one of the 200 volunteers. These are former entrepreneurs, sometimes also experts by experience. The Tax Authorities, administrators and 122 municipalities refer to Over Rood. In 2020, 607 aid programs were started. This year the counter is already at 1465.

Jeroen Berends is a volunteer at Over Rood in Apeldoorn. Until a few years ago, he was an entrepreneur in the flower trade. “It went well in the beginning, but it quickly became less so. Then you just have to muddle through.”

He is now employed. One day a week he guides entrepreneurs who have gotten into trouble. “What you often see, for example, is that entrepreneurs cancel the rent. They do not realize that they can then be evicted.”

Very stressful

In Apeldoorn, the number of requests for help quadrupled last year, says Berends. Rhode Bouter also came knocking. Just before corona, she opened a women’s fashion store: “Turnover rose sharply in the first two years, despite the corona crisis. That’s why I bought more, but that’s where things went wrong.”

For Bouter, the corona crisis lasted too long and the high energy bill was added to that. “It was all very stressful. The business was a long-cherished dream for me. You don’t want to stop at all, but I also didn’t want to bury my head in the sand.”

According to Berends, it is typical for entrepreneurs to want to solve things themselves: “Every week, when I sit with clients, I think: I wish I had had the help. Stopping is also a choice that requires courage.”


Dozens of entrepreneurs also register with the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) every day. Gé Gijssen is a business advisor at the Chamber of Commerce: “Often it is not even the entrepreneur himself, but a partner or mother who is concerned about a tax debt or rent arrears. Sometimes a listening ear is enough.”

The Chamber of Commerce refers you to Over Rood or the Entrepreneurial Sounding Board for more intensive assistance. 300 advisors work there on a voluntary basis, often retired entrepreneurs, lawyers or accountants. Every year they help 3,000 entrepreneurs, online or at the business. Gijssen thinks that the available help contributes to the low number of bankruptcies.

Geldfit Zakelijk also sees the number of requests for help increasing. This initiative started during the energy crisis. Municipalities, debt assistance, creditors, banks and insurers refer to Geldfit Zakelijk. Founder Ralph van Dam sees a lot of traffic on the site and the helpline is often called. The number of processes in which the entrepreneur is helped financially has grown rapidly, he says.

Banks say their attitude has changed since the credit crisis. They are more likely to ask how the entrepreneur is doing when they see payment arrears. A new regulation, the so-called WHOA procedure, also plays a role in the low number of bankruptcies, the banks say. The judge then decides that creditors must sit down with the entrepreneur to come up with a repayment plan and prevent bankruptcy.

Agreement with creditor

The SME Helpline, set up by the Institute for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (IMK), receives calls about 200 times a week. 500 entrepreneurs also do an online scan every week to gain insight into the financial health of their company.

According to IMK director Michiel Hordijk, there is more help and the nature of help has changed. After the credit crisis, which started in 2008, the number of entrepreneurs in debt restructuring increased rapidly. The peak was in 2011 with more than 9,000 entrepreneurs in debt restructuring.

Since then, things have been handled differently, says Hordijk: “We often focus on a liquidity agreement with creditors such as the UWV and the Tax Authorities. This allows us to avoid high bankruptcy costs.” Since 2020, the number of companies in debt restructuring has been below 1,000.


Professor of entrepreneurship Joris Knoben (Tilburg University) sees that a wave of bankruptcy has been predicted for years, but has still not materialized. “There seems to be more social awareness about the position of entrepreneurs. Attention to debts and aid also plays a role.”

According to him, this does not alter the fact that many companies have been struggling for some time. An indication of this is that during corona the number of bankruptcies remained limited, but the number of quitters was on the high side.

Knoben emphasizes that preventing bankruptcies does not have to be a goal in itself: “Companies that disappear are part of a healthy economy. It ensures innovation and the flow of workers. But a company does not necessarily have to go bankrupt for this.”

Knoben also warns against too much optimism. “There are certainly signals that the number of bankruptcies will increase in certain sectors. This includes over-representation in the catering industry.”

2023-11-29 04:56:10
#bankruptcies #entrepreneurs

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