BBZ - Besluit Bijstandverlening Zelfstandigen
The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment finances a successful programme to promote self-employment amongst unemployed (under a special law, the Besluit Bijstandverlening Zelfstandigen - 'Supplementary Benefit for Self-employed Persons Act', abbreviated to BBZ). BBZ makes it easier for individuals on unemployment benefits who cannot find a new job to start a new enterprise. This successful scheme includes training, business advisory services and a special lending facility and supplementary income support during the start-up phase. The facility is administered by the municipalities. These local authorities, in turn, contract independent, private business support organisations and individual business advisers or coaches to render the desired services.
The scheme finances the unemployed person's access to business support services. The assistance provided covers the orientation and preparation period, the financing period and the start-up period. During the orientation period of up to one year, the applicant receives individual training and counselling in order to increase her/his entrepreneurial competencies. The applicant also receives assistance in writing a business plan. Throughout this orientation period the social benefit allowance is continued and the person is exempt from the job application requirement. If required, the entrepreneur can get an interest-free loan of up to €2,708 to cover preparatory costs. After start-up it becomes an interest-bearing loan.
Upon approval of the business plan by the municipality, individuals who cannot obtain financing through a commercial bank are entitled to a loan of up to €32,905 to cover start-up costs.
During the first year of operations, the municipality covers (part of) the costs of supplementary business coaching sessions. If the income generated from the enterprise is below welfare benefit level, the entrepreneur is entitled to income support (the BBZ subsidy) for a period of up to three years.
Government statistics appear to state annual spending on BBZ as around €72 million.
Triodos Facet(2008). Entrepreneurship policy and successful initiatives to promote entrepreneurship in the Netherlands.
Official page on BBZ: