Gov't extends free coaching to hard-hit entrepreneurs as bankruptcies hit 3-year high

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) is set to begin subsidizing professional coaching for business leaders in the Netherlands in an effort to support companies that have been hard-hit as a result of Covid-19. The move comes as the number of businesses filing for bankruptcy in the Netherlands began to rise last month, with nearly 30 percent more businesses going under in April than in March, according to new figures from Statistics Netherlands on Tuesday.

Dutch entrepreneurs, who typically pay 150 euros in order to receive professional coaching from the EZK, will now have access to the service for free, the government announced on Tuesday. In order to achieve this goal, the Ministry will ramp up its spending by 240,000 euros to foot the bill.

"The corona crisis draws an incredibly heavy burden on entrepreneurs," State Secretary Mona Keijzer wrote, adding that the subsidies are aimed at ensuring that entrepreneurs "do not feel any obstacles to knocking on the door if they can use the support of this experienced club of former entrepreneurs."

The coaching will be carried out by Stichting Ondernemersklankbord (OKB) and will call on around 300 former entrepreneurs to volunteer to assist current entrepreneurs in coaching and executive education.

There were 334 companies, not including sole proprietorships, which went bankrupt in April, the most in a single month since January 2017. Statistics Netherlands said 320 companies and institutions were declared bankrupt, including 84 in the trade sector.

The statistics office did not believe the global health crisis played a large role in April bankruptcies because of the amount of time the process takes, which can be delayed by a further four weeks on appeal.