What's the outlook for European small businesses these days?
Not as good as SME owners would like, according to Véronique Willems, secretary general of SMEUnited, an organization representing some 22.5 million European small businesses that employ almost 82.4 million people across 30 European countries.
In recent months, European SMEs have been hit by the double whammy of COVID spikes due to the omicron variant and now higher energy prices due to Russia's war in Ukraine, Willems explains during a livestream conversation on small businesses and pandemic recovery hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Visa.
"I hear entrepreneurs who have tripled or more of their energy costs," she says.
"So the sentiment, let's say, is a big uncertainty at the moment." What about the EU's COVID stimulus program for SMEs? Willem points out that a lot of the funds have already been used for things like digitalization and green transition, which has been a big success, but complains that not all the money has gone to small firms.
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