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Number of SMEs in Belgium 2007-2017, by region

Total number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region (Belgium) from 2007 to 2017

by Raynor de Best, last edited Oct 17, 2019
Number of SMEs in Belgium 2007-2017, by region Based on financial reports from 2017, more than half of all small and medium enterprises in Belgium were located in the region of Flanders. When doing research for Belgium, most data will touch upon the three local regions and not the federal level. Belgium has four different governments, which all do things differently from one another: the federal level, Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region (Brussels and its direct neighborhood). This also shows in language as the SME sector in Belgium is referred to as either KMO in Flemish Dutch (an abbreviation of kleine of middelgrote ondernemingen) or PME (French for Petites et Moyennes Entreprises. Overall, though, there were around 1.1 million SMEs in the country. In comparison, neighboring Netherlands had around 442,500 SMEs in 2019.

Why are there inconsistencies in the SME numbers for Belgium?

When cross-checking numbers on SMEs, one might notice large differences in the reporting for Belgium. When adding, for example, the number of SME enterprises based on company employment size together, the total number reached roughly 620,000. A difference of 500,000 compared to the number mentioned here. These large differences stem from the source’s methodologies. Reporting on SME numbers in Belgium is based on the so-called NACE-BEL 2008, the official statistics groups Belgium uses when filing reports for Eurostat. These groups indicate economic activities and are used as a reference when creating numbers on, for example, SME activities. Simply put, different sources sometimes select different economic activities. The difference of 500,000, for example, stems from the fact that one source used the Agriculture category whereas the other did not.

How big is the impact of SMEs in Belgium compared to other countries?

In 2017, roughly 69 percent of the Belgian workforce was employed by SMEs. This was noticeably higher than in neighboring countries France, Netherlands and Luxembourg, as well as the EU-28 average. This was, however, lower than, for example, Italy and Portugal.
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Total number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region (Belgium) from 2007 to 2017

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