The development of small and medium-sized enterprises is one of the basic prerequisites for the healthy economic development of cities, municipalities, regions and the whole country. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Slovakia account for 99.9 % of the total number of business entities, provide employment opportunities for almost three quarters (74 %) of the active workforce in the business economy and account for more than half (55 %) of the value added. 97 % of SMEs are micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees.
Due to different natural, economic and social conditions or historical contexts, the conditions for entrepreneurship differ in individual regions of Slovakia. These ultimately contribute to the uneven development of regions, including small and medium-sized enterprises. More than one-fifth of active small and medium-sized enterprises in Slovakia (22.7 %) had their headquarters in the Bratislava Self-Governing Region (BSR) in 2020. Overall, the region registered the highest number of active SMEs, as many as 135,377. BSR is also characterised by the highest growth dynamics in the number of SMEs. Over the past 10 years, the number of SMEs in the region has increased by 17.5 %, but only by 7.5 % in Slovakia as a whole. The high entrepreneurial attractiveness of the region is confirmed by the highest level of SME entrepreneurial activity in Slovakia, with almost 38 active SMEs per 100 economically active inhabitants of BSR. Another specificity of the Bratislava Region is the persistent increase in the number and higher resilience of SMEs even in times of crisis, which was confirmed during the global financial crisis or the corona crisis. The centre of entrepreneurship is the city of Bratislava, where 79.3 % of active SMEs from the region and 18.0 % from the whole Slovakia are based. Compared to other regions of Slovakia, BSR is characterized by the highest share of women among natural persons – entrepreneurs (36.6 %) and the lowest share of young entrepreneurs up to 29 years of age (12.9 %). A typical feature of BSR is the lowest share of SMEs with a positive economic result, while in the area of financial productivity of labour the companies are among the most efficient in Slovakia. The high level of development of the knowledge economy in BSR is confirmed by the highest share of SMEs operating in high-tech sectors (8.9 %).
The situation is different in the neighbouring Trnava Self-Governing Region (TTSR), where the third lowest number of SMEs in Slovakia was registered in 2020 (58,822) and the growth in the number of entrepreneurs in the region has long been among the slowest in the Slovak Republic. The exception of increasing abundance despite the onset of the corona crisis also applies in the case of TTSR. After BSR, the Trnava Region has the second lowest share of entities with a positive economic result (65.8 %). At the same time, SMEs based in the region are among the most indebted. In 2019, one in five (21.5 %) SMEs used bank loans as an external source of finance. The lack of competitiveness of SMEs in TTSR at the international level and the high concentration of foreign investors (mainly in the automotive and electronics industries) has resulted in the long-term dominance of large enterprises in the foreign trade exchange of goods. SMEs account for only about one-fifth of the region’s total exports, which is the second lowest proportion compared to other regions. They also account for only 22.1 % of imports, making their position the weakest compared to other regions.
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