Belgium saw record number of start-ups in 2023

Belgium saw a record number of start-ups last year, according to a report by the associations of entrepeneurs Unizo and UCM and information agency GraydonCreditsafe. However, the number of business closures also reached unprecedented levels, and bankruptcies are on the rise.

A total of 120,478 new sole traders and companies were set up in Belgium in 2023, an increase of 4,833 or 4.2 per cent on 2022. This growth is expected to continue this year, with the first quarter showing a provisional increase of almost 2 per cent.

Flanders in particular is seeing an increase in the number of start-ups. As in previous years, most new enterprises were created in the services sector, which accounted for 38.5 percent of the total number of new enterprises in Belgium. This was followed by the liberal professions (16 per cent), construction (12.3 per cent) and retail trade (7.3 per cent).

Record number of terminations

There were also 101,973 business terminations in Belgium last year, another record. The number of bankruptcies also increased. As a result, with more than 1.266 million businesses, there has only been a net growth of 1.46 per cent at the beginning of 2024, "the lowest growth rate in 10 years", according to Eric Van den Broele of GraydonCreditsafe.

Hotels and restaurants (2.01 per cent), retail trade (1.25 per cent), wholesale trade (0.92 per cent) and manufacturing (0.6 per cent) saw a net decline in the number of businesses. This is mainly due to the increasing age of entrepreneurs in these sectors, says Van den Broele. Changing consumer behaviour also plays a role. They are spending less in restaurants and bars and more online, for example.

According to both Unizo and UCM, the figures show the need for governments to continue to encourage entrepreneurship. They argue for lower income tax for sole traders and administrative simplification.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO JORIS VLIEGEN

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