31. Portugal

This country profile presents self-employment and entrepreneurship data for women, youth, seniors and immigrants in Portugal relative to the average for the European Union. It also reports on the conditions for entrepreneurship and highlights current inclusive entrepreneurship policy issues and recent developments.

Entrepreneurship conditions are strong compared to most of the European Union (EU) Member States, ranking among the top 5 EU countries for SME lending, entrepreneurship skills and entrepreneurship expectation. This is largely due to the simplification of administrative and licensing procedures over the past decade. Public policies to promote entrepreneurship have gained importance in recent years, notably through the StartUp Portugal Strategy. Tailored policies and programmes are used to support youth entrepreneurship through the Youth Guarantee. There is also some dedicated support for immigrants.

Early-stage entrepreneurship was over the EU average for the period 2016-20, notably youth (18-30 years old) who were about twice as likely as the EU average. Many new entrepreneurs started their business out of necessity – notably women (31%) and seniors (35%) – yet remain more optimistic about job creation in the next 5 years than the EU average. Closing the gaps in entrepreneurship (i.e. applying the early-stage entrepreneurship rate of core-age men to the whole population) would result in an additional 280 000 entrepreneurs. About 85% of these “missing” entrepreneurs are female and 60% are over 50 years old.

The self-employment rate declined by 4 percentage points over the past decade, reflecting the overall downward trend in the EU. However, immigrants (17%) and to a lesser extent women (11%) were more likely to be self-employed relative to the EU averages (12% for immigrants; 10% for women) in 2020.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a EUR 25 million five-prong start-up support initiative for entrepreneurs and the self-employed was introduced in April 2020 with: financial support (equivalent to the minimum wage of up to 10 employees per start-up); a 3-month extension of the Start-up Voucher Scheme (EUR 2 075 per entrepreneurial job); an incubation service for new start-ups including a non-refundable incentive of EUR 1 500; a measure converting loans into social capital and a favourable discount rate (average investment between EUR 50 000 and EUR 100 000 per start-up); and, an instrument for start-up investments beginning at EUR 50 000. In September 2020, MSMEs received support through the Programme ATIVAR.PT for non-residential leasing mostly through a non-repayable subsidy in the first half of 2021 (EUR 300 million in total). Some sector-specific support was also made available, including a EUR 25 million fiscal package in June 2020 to help an estimated 18 000 cultural and creative self-employed workers.

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