Around 85 percent of micro and small businesses in Serbia estimate a pandemic will have a negative impact on their business, show results of a survey with 209 businesses conducted by Smart Kolektiv and the Responsible Business Forum in the last week of March.

These companies are employing 44% of working population in Serbia. In addition to direct employment, these businesses have a much broader social impact on the quality of life of over 3 million people in our country – families of employees, small suppliers such as farms that are endangered without these businesses and others. In addition, a large number of these businesses operate in underdeveloped municipalities where they represent an important support and income for the local community.

Research showed that 80 percent of micro and small businesses expect a decrease in demand for their products and services during and after the pandemic, while 70 percent of businesses expect to feel the economic impact of a pandemic on their business for 6 months or longer. Finally, more than 48 percent of businesses estimate that they will not be able to overcome these challenges without additional support.

When it comes to the type of support companies need right now, the largest number of them emphasized that at this moment the most important thing is fast reaction of the state and support in the form of tax reliefs. Regarding the support coming from the business sector, most of them highlighted that giving privilege to small domestic producers over imported goods and active involvement in the promotion of micro and small businesses is crucial for the current situation.
The largest number of interviewed companies need support in the form of tax reliefs (80.4%) and support in the form of one-time financial support (53.1%). Regarding one-time financial support, most of them would need the amount of up to EUR 5,000 to overcome the crisis (50.2%). Also, significant number of them need access to favorable loans (31.1%).

When it comes to larger clients (such as large sales chains, etc), the largest number of companies need support in the form of the advance payment (28.7%) or shorter period of payment (20.1%). Speaking of the support coming from the large suppliers, most of the enterprises would need delayed payment (35.4%), stable and regular supply of goods (21.1%) and lower prices of goods (17.2%)

Regarding the type of technical and expert support enterprises need currently, most of them need support in the area of adaptation of the business model to the current situation (43.1%), business consulting and planning (30.6%) and financial consulting (27.8%)

Although they are among the worst affected by the crisis, more than one-third of the surveyed companies themselves have engaged in solidarity actions with their fellow citizens. In the previous days, entrepreneurs and small businesses donated meals, groceries and hygiene products, shifted production to hygiene products and protective equipment, 3D printing of visors for medical staff, and assisted in volunteering to distribute assistance to vulnerable citizens.

Smart Kolektiv and Responsible Business Forum have shared the results of the research with partners – representatives of the international community, the public sector and the rest of the private sector, with a call to action to design and implement adequate measures to overcome the challenges small businesses will face.
Results (IN SERBIAN) are available at the following>> LINK.