Public Authority Funds and Support
Information on the funds and support the self-employed expat is eligible to apply for in Belgium...
Whether at European, federal, regional or provincial level, an wide range of public financial aid is available to businesses and the self-employed. Apart from certain sectors officially excluded by the public authorities, most businesses and self-employed persons are entitled to support. Much of this aid can be combined and particular attention is paid to starter companies and self-employed people. The key categories of subsidised investments are set out below.
- For full details and application forms see the EcoSubsiBru website under Alle tegemoetkomingen/Toutes les aides (in Dutch & French)
The Flemish and Walloon Regions and the Brussels-Capital Region offer a range of investment aids to assist Belgian or foreign businesses established in the region concerned. Investment must be made in that region. These measures are specifically aimed at start-up businesses and the self-employed.
Assistance can take various forms, the most popular of which are:
- Interest subsidies (interestsubsidies/subventions en intérêts) and capital contribution grants (kapitaalpremies/primes en capital). The amount of these subsidies depends on a number of factors, notably the amount of the investment that can be subsidised, the business sector, and the size and age of the company
- Support for specific types of investment, such as those favouring the environment, permitting savings in energy and raw materials or investment of an innovative nature
- Supplementary subsidies for investments favouring job creation
- Tax advantages (where a capital contribution grant or interest subsidy has been granted)
- Accelerated depreciation
- Exemption from withholding tax over a specified period
The type of assistance available, the selection criteria, and the formalities and conditions to be fulfilled differ from one region to another. The source of funding will therefore depend on the particular project and the place where it is going to set up.
The Participation Fund
The Participation Fund (participatiefonds/fonds de participation) is a federal public institution involved in the market for small and medium-sized businesses and the self-employed. It offers the Starteo loan, the start-up loan and the joint loan.
The Starteo loan is aimed at the self-employed, small companies and those in the liberal professions with businesses that have been in operation for less than four years. The support consists of a subordinated loan of no more than €250,000 at a preferential rate of 3% for the first two years. The loan is granted for 5, 7 or 10 years, depending on the project type. The amount of the loan is decided on the basis of the capital investment made by the business itself in the project concerned. The loan can never be more than four times the investment made by the business itself and cannot exceed the amount loaned by the business's bank to finance the project.
The start-up loan (startlening/prêt lancement) is aimed at the fully unemployed who have been receiving benefits or a job-seeker's allowance (wachtuitkering/allocations d'attente) for less than three months, or those on subsistence allowance (bestaansminimum/ minimexe) who wish to become self-employed or set up a company. The support consists of a subordinated loan not exceeding €30,000, for a period not exceeding ten years, at a preferential rate of 4 percent. The applicant must contribute one quarter of the sum borrowed, which could be through a loan granted by a financial institution. Should activity cease during the first five years, the Fund may waive repayment of the balance if proof can be shown, within three months of activity ceasing, that the stoppage was beyond the control of the person concerned. The start-up loan can be combined with a Starteo or Optimeo loan provided the conditions under which the latter are granted are met.
A joint loan is aimed at a private person who starts up as self-employed or who sets up a business and who has substantial financial difficulties (a person receiving a social reintegration income (leefloon/revenu d'intégration sociael– LL/RIS), social security benefits, unemployment benefits, etc). The support consists of a subordinated loan not exceeding €12,000, repayable over four years at a fixed rate of 3 percent. The joint loan can be combined with a start-up loan provided the conditions under which the latter is granted are met.
- InvestinBelgium – official Finance Ministry site for foreign investors
- Invest.Belgium - Government site for foreign investors
- The Federal portal for Belgium (under Businesses)
- The Finance Ministry
- The Ministry of Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy
Disclaimer: Information contained on this page is only an outline of self-employment structures and systems in Belgium and is not a comprehensive guide. Banks can provide advice on the costs and the legal formalities for setting up a business and advice on general business and financial management. For detailed tax and legal advice, businesses should contact a specialist lawyer or accounting firm.