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Brusoc gives precious business startup assistance

Dominique Weber (Lookhatme) - ©Brusoc

2013-09-13 – One of the benefits of very small businesses (VSBs) is that they (re)generate economic activity at local level – an objective that is also served by social economy enterprises and self-employed people. Such economic activity, jobs and social ties are exactly what the Canal area needs in order to consolidate its redevelopment. And the activities of Brusoc, a subsidiary of the Brussels Regional Investment Corporation (BRIC) which is giving precious assistance to business startups there, are bearing fruit in this respect.

Brusoc, which is itself supported by the Brussels-Capital Region and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), aims to help new business initiatives with some simple tools. For VSBs, these include a business priming fund which is accessible to them, as well as micro-loans and working capital loans. For social economy enterprises, they include subordinated and discount loans.

More than 500 businesses

One example is Florent Hainaut of Bridgewaterconsulting, who used Brusoc’s services in 2010.

“The company was set up in 2009 on a self-funded basis,” he explains. “But as we are a service company which works by results, our income is spread over time: we help small and medium-sized companies to reduce their overheads by rationalising. This means that our financial return does not come immediately, but depends on the savings achieved by our clients.”  In 2010, Florent Hainaut contacted BRIC. “We were experiencing some cash flow problems associated with the type of financing we were using for our activities. In order to give ourselves a slightly larger comfort zone for the management of the business, we therefore applied for 17,000 euros of assistance. Since then, the company, which is still based at Village Partenaire (a business centre at Rue Fernand Bernier in Saint-Gilles – ed.), has taken on three people. And it’s doing well.”

In spring 2013, Brusoc drew up a summary of its activities: over 500 companies have received support, 95% of them in the Canal area. A total of 12.2 million euros has been invested since 2001. And at the time the summary was compiled, 61% of the assistance (7.5 million euros) had been repaid. Most of it has taken the form of priming funds: loans to very small businesses for a maximum of 95,000 euros. In terms of employment, this represents 962 jobs created.

Support, confidence and innovation

Another beneficiary of Brusoc’s operations is a company called Lookhatme based by the Canal at Quai des Charbonnages in Molenbeek. It focuses on women’s well-being and beauty, and produces and markets turbans and hats in a variety of shapes and colours. Made from a special fibre, they are comfortable to wear in both summer and winter, and are particularly suitable for people undergoing chemotherapy.

The current success that Dominique Weber is experiencing comes after some difficult times. After a rapid business startup, she faced a problem with her products being copied: deliveries were stopped, her sales were frozen, there were legal proceedings and her costly stock was grounded. It was at this point that Brusoc placed confidence in her. “That was four years ago. Now I have completely repaid the support and my company is in profit,” says Dominique Weber happily. “I knew people at Brusoc who believed in me, my plan and my ability to recover. That enabled me to pull through and get my business off the ground again. With them, I realised that I needed to find a niche for my business, and I have found one with a very specific fibre that I now use.”

A wide range of fields

As these two examples show, Brusoc’s interventions take place in a great variety of sectors. Thus Kamilou, based on Rue Bernier in Saint-Gilles among other places, operates in sustainable food. It offers home cooking, with flavours that derive from fair trade and locally grown organic products. As well as ‘world tour’ salads and quiches, it also features dishes created in-house. Not to mention sandwiches and desserts. And business is going well, as it has opened two more restaurants.

And then there’s Mitra Mercury, with a Canalside location on Rue Heyvaert in Molenbeek, specialising in international goods haulage. And SPRL 6+1 on Rue d’Alost in Brussels, which operates in the marketing and advertising sector. And Fiscalia, on Rue Royale in Saint-Josse, which provides expertise in accounting and taxation.

In short, Brusoc provides some really solid support for business launches that generate jobs in a wide range of sectors in the Brussels Region, mainly benefiting the Canal territory.

For more information:

Jean-Pierre BORLOO