IMM Online team launches a new phase for one of the most impactful digitalisation programs in Romania. Unique in Europe, IMM Online connects SMEs to young tech professionals. On the same occasion, we are also presenting the results of a qualitative survey analyzing the needs of SMEs. Some of the results we estimate to reach with this program until 2024: 50.000 new jobs for young professionals and a business increase of over 30% for more than 100.000 SMEs. The matchmaking platform can be accessed on www.immonline.ro by all the entrepreneurs that lead an SME and need online presence and promotion. IMM Online addresses mostly small producers, craftsmen and women, artists, farmers and freelancers, but the program is not limited to these areas. IMM Online is a program created by Digital Nation with the support of Google.org and Banca Transilvania, while being part of a new digital direction embraced by the organisation.
“We’ve recently talked with the Google.org team, members of European Parliament and leaders from technology about the possibility of coming together to accelerate the digitalisation of SMEs and to develop advanced technologies that galvanize significant changes for the 22.6 million SMEs in the European Union. We are enthusiastic about launching our own matchmaking platform, with an orientation component that is based on AI (artificial intelligence). Our efforts are going to the 500.000 small companies in Romania; during the next year, we are planning to expand this program in CEE (Central and Eastern Europe).” – Says Paul Apostol, founder Digital Nation, right after his participation to the global event organised by Google.org, #SkillsWeek.
IMM Online was created during the pandemic and addressed small businesses in Romania that need online presence and look for fast solutions to digitize their business with limited time and financial resources on their part. The program connects SMEs to a network of +2000 young experts in IT and digital marketing, while offering digital solutions ready to be implemented.
The main benefits of IMM Online:
- Generations connect productively and collaboratively. The enterprises gain relevant online presence and the specialists allocated gain their first professional experience
- IMM Online becomes a strategic and operational support for the SMEs, because the enterprises can outsource IT and marketing departments. The entire support is free, while the entrepreneurs allocate budgets only for services such as website hosting
- Through this program, SMEs take their first steps into the digital world, while monetising these initiatives
The main conclusions of the qualitative study:
- SMEs are a vital component of the Romanian economy, ensuring 66% of the total workforce and more than half of the GDP value. Romania has around 590.000 SMEs, out of a total of more than 25 million in the European Union: 531.000 micro-enterprises/entrepreneurs or solo preneurs, 49.000 small enterprises and 8.400 medium enterprises. They represent 99.7% of the Romanian economy; large companies, with more than 250 employees represent only 0.3%. At this moment, statistics show that Romanian SMEs are not innovative, under half of the European medium level (source: European Innovation Scoreboard). The Romanian digital economy is rising faster, with almost 10 to 12% per year, while the European rate if of 6-8%. This increase was accentuated by the pandemic, resulting in a 15 to 20% per year value.
- SMEs can become more competitive if they have an online presence and increase their knowledge of digital skills among employees.
- 84% of SMEs think the brand must develop in order to remain competitive; nevertheless, 42% don’t even have a brand identity. In order to respond to their marketing and online needs, it’s important that SMEs collaborate with experts for their first digital steps and for building their online presence and promotion. (e.g. 46% have a functional website; 56% have a social media page or community; 13% opt for e-commerce; 55% have the option for online payment; only 21% are promoting their business online).
- More than 70% of SMEs declare that they find it difficult to access financing, especially for investments. They need access to expertise and clear, simplified information, to guide them during the analysis for eligibility.
More information on the needs of SMEs related to financial management, marketing and online sales, legal and HR can be accessed in the detailed version of the study conducted with more than 600 enterprises, available in this section of the website.