13. Estonia

13.1. SMEs in the national economy

Of all Estonian firms in 2014, only 0.2% were large enterprises that employ more than 250 persons. SMEs employed 78.5% of the workforce and accounted for 75.8% of value added. Of all firms, 90.6% were micro-enterprises, i.e. firms with less than 10 employees, employing 32% of the workforce and accounting for 26.6% of value added in 2014. SMEs play an important role in the Estonian economy, accounting for 73% of exported goods in 2015.

Table ‎13.1. Firm distribution in Estonia, 2014
(By firm size, percentage of all firms)

Firm size (employees)



All firms

73 472


SMEs (1-249)

73 302


Micro (1-9)

66 572


Small (10-49)

5 595


Medium (50-249)

1 135


Large (250+)



Source: (OECD, 2017[1]).

13.2. National policy framework to support SMEs in public procurement

In 2017 Estonia enacted the new Public Procurement Act (Riigihangete seadus, or RHS), which transposes the EU directive on public procurement. The RHS included measures – such as division into lots, setting proportionate qualification requirements, central announcing of tenders, etc. – that facilitate SMEs’ access to public procurement opportunities, although these are not SME-specific measures. Estonia is currently developing a standalone public procurement strategy.

13.3. Implementation mechanisms

The Ministry of Finance organises training on a regular basis for suppliers and contracting authorities on use of the central public procurement register. Also, there is a consultation service available for all, including contracting authorities and economic operators, to help understand the provisions of the RHS. FAQ materials as well as several guidance materials are available on line that provide further explanation of the provisions.

13.4. Monitoring performance

Analyses are currently being carried out on the costs of public procurement procedures, covering the costs borne both by contracting authorities and by the suppliers. It will be repeated next year in order to evaluate the effectiveness of fresh rules set in the new Public Procurement Act. The input data for the analysis were collected by means of a questionnaire for contracting authorities and suppliers, which in turn was based on their evaluations.

Estonia started measuring the share of government contracts awarded to SMEs in 2015. Data are aggregated based on the information entered into the central public procurement register. Information on the enterprise size is self-declared by the enterprise at the time it registers its interest in a specific procurement.

Figure ‎13.1. Share of contracts awarded to SMEs

Note: Collection of information based on enterprise size began during 2015. Therefore, the data for the year 2015 are not complete and some data for the year 2016 are also unavailable. In addition, over 10% of contracts were concluded with enterprises whose size was not declared in 2015. As most of the firms in Estonia are SMEs, it is estimated that the actual share of contracts concluded with SMEs was over 80% in 2015. For the 2016 data as well, 2% of the contracts were concluded with enterprises whose size is unknown.

Source: Country response to the 2017 OECD Survey on strategic use of public procurement to support SMEs.


[1] OECD (2017), Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2017: An OECD Scoreboard, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/fin_sme_ent-2017-en.

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