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Germany: Interest in starting business declines

July 15, 2023

Germans are losing interest in starting their own business or becoming self-employed. The German Chambers of Industry and Commerce see the trend as a threat to the country's economic development.

Closed restaurant in city center of Bonn, Germany
Even after the end of the coronavirus pandemic, there was no upswing in the restaurants and catering sector in GermanyImage: Ying Tang/NurPhoto/picture alliance

People in Germany are showing less and less interest in starting a business or becoming self-employed. The number of consultations for potential founders at the regional Chambers of Industry and Commerce fell by 3% to 154,785 in 2022 compared to the previous year.

It is the lowest level since counting began in 2002, the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) said on Saturday. In 2010 there were still 431,000 consultations.

"After the coronavirus pandemic, there was no start-up push, for example in retail or in the catering trade gastronomy," it added. Compared to the pre-crisis year of 2019, there was even a drop in start-up consultations about more concrete projects by a significant 42%.

What keeps Germans from starting a business?

The long-term new business trend is also downward. According to the annual DIHK report, for the past 13 years, except for 2016 and 2019, fewer and fewer people have been asking questions about starting a business from year to year.

DIHK President Peter Adrian described this trend as "a serious threat" to the  German economy.

"Many people are insecure and shy away from taking the step into self-employment," he said. 

In addition to demographic changes, the DIHK also sees uncertain framework conditions for founders as a cause. Adrian called on politicians to provide targeted incentives so "more people would be happy to start a business again."

dh/sms (dpa, AFP)

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