Business transfer as an engine for SME growth Parallel session 2

| February 22, 2018

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This paper was prepared as a background document to the OECD Ministerial Conference on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, taking place on 22-23 February 2018 in Mexico. It sets a basis for reflection and discussion. Business transfer1 represents a critical stage in the life of many small businesses, which the ageing of the population of entrepreneurs has brought to the fore in many OECD countries. In Japan, for instance, more than 300 000 SME incumbents will attain the age of 70 within the next five years according to recent figures by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In Italy, about 9% of entrepreneurs are over 70. In Austria, 27% of all SMEs in the industrial economy, accounting for 30% of employment, are expected to be handed over in the period from 2014 to 2023 (Ziniel et al., 2014). In Canada, approximately 50% to 60% of business owners will retire over 2017-27. In Switzerland, as of 2013, 22% of SME incumbents intended to pass ownership over in the next five years and 25% were seeking to hand the leadership position over (Christen et al., 2013). Furthermore, in former socialist economies in Central and Eastern Europe, the first generation of entrepreneurs is nearing retirement, leading to a significant proportion of the business stock having to be transferred in the coming years.

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