Overview - SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine of the German economy. This is illustrated by statistical data on the macro-economic significance of SMEs and by SME key indicators for Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia (cf. the table below). The following data are based on IfM Bonn's definition of SMEs.

Please note that we currently provide only a selection of the most important statistics on our English website.

For further statistics, please refer to our German section.

  • Macro-economic significance of SMEs

    • Germany
    • NRW

    Macro-economic significance of SMEs - Germany

       

    • In 2017, approx. 3.47 million German enterprises classified as small and medium-sized enterprises, accounting for 99.5% of the total number of enterprises with turnover from goods and services and/or employees subject to social insurance contributions.1
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    • German SMEs generated an annual turnover of approx. 2.33 bn € in 2017, which represents 35.0% of the total turnover of German enterprises.1  
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    • Approx. 17.49 million employees subject to social insurance contributions were employed by SMEs in Germany in 2017, accounting for 57.9% of total employment (subject to social insurance contributions).1
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    • At the end of 2017, some 81.9% of all apprentices were trained by establishments with less than 500 employees (subject to social insurance contribution).2
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    • Export turnover of German SMEs added up to approx. 213.9 bn € in 2017, accounting for 16.4% of the total German export turnover.2
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    • German SMEs had a share of almost 57.8% in total net value added in Germany in 2017.2
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    • Businesses with less than 500 employees spent 10.2 bn € on R&D, equal to a share of 11.6% in total R&D expenditures in the business sector in 2017.
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    Macro-economic significance of SMEs - NRW

       

    • In 2017, approx. 713 200 enterprises classified as small and medium-sized enterprises in North Rhine-Westphalia, accounting for 99.4% of the total number of enterprises with turnover from goods and services and/or employees subject to social insurance contributions.
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    • SMEs in North Rhine-Westphalia generated an annual turnover of approx. 511.64 bn € in 2017 which represents 34.2% of the total turnover of all enterprises subject to turnover tax in North Rhine-Westphalia (cf. Germany: 2 323.8 bn € and 36.5% of total turnover).*
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    • SMEs in North Rhine-Westphalia employed approx. 3.69 million employees subject to social insurance contributions in 2017, accounting for a share of 53.5% in total employment (subject to social insurance contributions).
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    • Some 82.4% of all apprentices were trained by etstablishments with less than 500 employees subject to social insurance contributions at the end of 2017.
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    * Data from VAT-Statistics 2017. SME classification only by turnover size.

  • Key indicators based on SME definition by IfM Bonn

    • Germany
    • NRW

    Key indicators - Germany

      Total1 SMEs1 SME-Share1 
    Number of enterprises      
    Enterprises according to
    business register 20172
    3 481 860 3 465 239 99.5%
    Enterprises liable to VAT 20173 3 266 806 3 253 923 99.6%
    Enterprise turnover      
    Turnover of enterprises
    according to business
    register 20172 (in €)
    6 654.95 bn 2 331.15 bn 35.0%
    Turnover of enterprises
    liable to VAT 20173 (in €)
    6 360.80 bn 2 323.78 bn 36.5%
    Employees/Apprentices in
    enterprises and companies
         
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in
    enterprises according to
    business register 20172
    30.22 m 17.49 m 57.9%
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in local
    establishments (incl.
    apprentices) (31.12.2017)4
    30.75 m 24.19 m 78.6%
    Apprentices in local
    establishments (31.12.2017)4,5
    1.52 m 1.25 m 81.9%
    Self-employed      
    Self-employed total 20176 4.10 m    
    thereof:
    Self-employed in liberal
    professions (01.01.2018)7
    1.41 m    
    Self-employment rate
    20176, 8
    9.8%    
    reporting:
    Self-employed except
    agriculture 20179
    3.91 m    
    Self-employment rate
    except agriculture 20178, 9
    9.5%    
    Economic Performance      
    Net value added of enterprises
    201710
         57.8%
    Research and Development      
    R&D-expenses of the companies
    201711
    88.29 bn 10.20 bn  11.6%
          © IfM Bonn

    Notes

    Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; Science statistics of the Stifterverband; Calculations by IfM Bonn, 05/2019.

     

    Key indicators - NRW

      Total1 KMU1 SME-Share1
    Number of enterprises      
    Enterprises according to
    business register 20172
    717 282 713 199 99.4%
    Enterprises liable to VAT 20173 666 663 663 510 99.5%
    Enterprise turnover      
    Turnover of enterprises liable
    to VAT 20173 (in €)
    1 495.61 bn 511.64 bn 34.2%
    Employees/Apprentices in
    enterprises and companies
         
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in
    enterprises according to
    business register 20172
    6.90 m 3.69 m 53.5%
    Employees subject to social
    insurance contributions in
    enterprises according to
    business register (incl.
    apprentices) (31.12.2017)4
    6.46 m 5.09 m 78.7%
    Apprentices in local
    establishments (31.12.2017)4,5
    344 369 283 737 82.4%
    Self-employed      
    Self-employed total 20176 813 000    
    thereof:
    Self-employed in liberal
    professions (01.01.2018)7
    272 500    
    Self-employment rate
    20176, 8
    9.4%    
    reporting:
    Self-employed except
    agriculture 20179
    791 000    
    Self-employment rate
    except agriculture 20178, 9
    9.2%    
           © IfM Bonn 

    Notes

     

    Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Federal Employment Agency; Institute for Liberal Professions Nuremberg; Calculations by IfM Bonn, 05/2019.

    Kennzahlen - Weitere Informationen

    Tables for further indicators

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    Updating

    Key indicators are being updated on a regular basis. The update schedule depends on the availability of basic data from official/semi-official statistics published by statistical agencies and research institutes respectively. 

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  • Self-employment monitor

    Self-employment monitor

    Background

    After the previous publisher of the self-employment monitor, Prof. Dr. Michael-Burkhard Piorkowsky (Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelm Universität Bonn), has retired, the IfM Bonn has assumed this task and publishes this report in cooperation with the Federal statistical Office from autum/winter 2015 on a yearly basis. Based on micro-census data, the self-employment monitor analyses the current development of self-employed individuals and start-ups.

    Survey Design

    The analyses of the self-employment monitor are based on the evaluation of the entire data record of the micro-census provided by the Federal statistical Office. The calculations take the new extrapolation factor based on the 2011 census into account. The independent monitor distinguishes between self-employed individuals in a primary and exclusive employment and self-employed individuals in a secondary employment (so-called supplementary income activity). The former – the primary and exclusive employment – is furthur differentiated between full-time activity and part-time activity.

    Self-employed individuals/liberal professionals

    The researchers of IfM Bonn use the statistical data on the self-employed individuals on the basis of the micro-census, which the Federal statistical Office issues annually.

    Liberal professionals represent a specific group among the self-employed individuals. In the official statistics, this group is described inadequately due to the application of different definitions of self-employment. The statistical information as provided by IfM Bonn is mainly based on the evaluations of IFB Institut der freien Berufe.

    Self-employment monitor - Veröffentlichungen

    • New Publications
    Self-employment monitor 2014

    Suprinovič, O.; Norkina, A. (2015): Selbstständigen-Montitor 2014: Selbstständige in Deutschland 2011 bis 2014, hrsg. Institut für Mittelstandsforschung Bonn, Statistisches Bundesamt, Bonn.

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