Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted different ways in which governmental and non-governmental institutions could provide aid schemes and other services to businesses and entrepreneurs with difficulties. This has been the case for the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, explained its International Affairs and European Legal Affairs Coordinator, Claudine Otto, a member of the Employers' Group (Group I) at the EESC.
"Our organisation adapted its services to the needs of its members", said Ms Otto, focusing on four different areas.
First of all, it provided guidance on the new aid schemes. The Chamber of Commerce and its House of Entrepreneurship in Luxemburg helped entrepreneurs whose businesses have been affected by the health crisis to access the aid available to them as quickly as possible. The support provided consisted of administrative assistance (e.g. filling in the application forms) and advice on existing aid and how to achieve a successful recovery. "We believe that personalised advice is the most effective way to help entrepreneurs in an emergency situation to sustain their business for economic recovery", said Ms Otto.
Secondly, the Chamber offered webinars on the support for businesses. The aim of the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Trades was to offer regular webinars in collaboration with the General Directorate for the Middle Classes of the Ministry of the Economy, giving enterprises an overview of the measures implemented by the government and guiding them step by step through the application form on the official website.
Thirdly, it extended the React programme, through which the Chamber has set up a unique support programme to help entrepreneurs whose operations have been fundamentally disrupted by the COVID-19 health crisis. The programme also offered tailor-made solutions and assisted businesses in implementing them.
Last but not least, it offered virtual B2B meetings to support companies with their internationalization. Some of these online calls were and are hosted by different countries and range from the construction sector to the healthcare sector, or from the digital transformation to smart cities.
The Chamber has also continued with other initiatives that were launched during the first lockdown in 2020. These included "back guarantees", a specific guarantee covering 50% of the credit requested up to a maximum amount of EUR 250 000 per guarantee, and which aim to help businesses with financial difficulties. It also continued its "liaison with the government" scheme, which comprises national aid packages for businesses, set up between the Chamber and the government and relevant authorities. These packages took the form of non-repayable grants to micro-enterprises and repayable advances to cover operating costs. Lastly, the Chamber published a a COVID-19 Newsletter and the website (https://www.cc.lu/covid19/) to give practical information related to the development of the COVID-19 crisis and the assistance and support measures available.