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Start-up city: why Lisbon is luring entrepreneurs

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Start-up city: why Lisbon is luring entrepreneurs


Lisbon has much to offer the multitudes of tourists who visit every year but it’s now also proving attractive to entrepreneurs. Under a special programme the city has created excellent conditions for fostering SMEs and the results so far are impressive.

“In two and a half years, we have installed more than 70 new businesses in Lisbon and have already managed to create more than a 160 new jobs,” says Lisbon City Council Project Manager Maribel Rodrigues Ferreira.

By the majestic walls of Saint Jorge castle in the heart of Lisbon we meet the man behind one of the programme’s success stories.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards

  • The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) reward organisations or projects in Europe that promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.
  • Since 2006, over 2 800 projects have entered the awards and together they have created thousands of new companies and jobs.
  • Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship is one of the projects shortlisted for the award in 2015. This project helps potential entrepreneurs in Lisbon to set up their business, access funding and find suitable premises.
  • In the last 3 years the Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship programme helped establish more than 70 businesses that created over 160 new jobs.

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From his Tuk-Tuk Tiago Ribeiro sells beautifully packaged speciality canned Portuguese fish products. He was the first entrepreneur to have been helped by the Lisbon scheme, which immediately saw the appeal of his concept.

“Our idea was to create a brand with highly original packaging but also with, on the inside, high quality fish products from northern Portugal, made using the same methods our grandfather used in 1911,” says Tiago, co-founder of Miss Can.

SME hothouse

Through the programme Tiago was able to access a micro-credit of 20,000 euros at very low interest. It allowed him to buy his vehicle and initial stock. But beyond the financial aspect Tiago and his two associates Marta and Barbara also enjoyed the coaching and personal mentoring they received.

“We never felt alone,” says Tiago. “For example, when we worked out the business plan, when we had questions, we knew we could call them and there was always someone on the phone. All this allowed us to feel stronger.”

This year the company won top prize in a Portuguese creative industries competition. Its products are now available worldwide via the Internet and in several outlets in Europe. Soon Tiago and his associates will open their own tapas bar in Lisbon, with 5 new staff.

Rewarding initiative

The programme helps micro-entrepreneurs like Tiago find a place get their business going. The city offers three business ‘incubators’. There are also co-working spaces and a ‘FabLab’ for entrepreneurs who want to develop their prototypes.”

The micro-enterprises initiative is a real success and is in the running to win a European Enterprise Promotion award. Since 2006 this competition, set up by the European Commission, has highlighted some 3,000 good business practices across Europe – a wealth of great ideas giving rise to thousands of SMEs and jobs.

The programme is free and open to applicants from all over the world.

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