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SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES (SMES)

Statistics Directorate    
Definition:
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are non-subsidiary, independent firms which employ fewer than a given number of employees. This number varies across countries. The most frequent upper limit designating an SME is 250 employees, as in the European Union. However, some countries set the limit at 200 employees, while the United States considers SMEs to include firms with fewer than 500 employees.

Small firms are generally those with fewer than 50 employees, while micro-enterprises have at most 10, or in some cases 5, workers.

Financial assets are also used to define SMEs. In the European Union, a new definition came into force on 1 January 2005 applying to all Community acts and funding programmes as well as in the field of State aid where SMEs can be granted higher intensity of national and regional aid than large companies. The new definition provides for an increase in the financial ceilings: the turnover of medium-sized enterprises (50-249 employees) should not exceed EUR 50 million; that of small enterprises (10-49 employees) should not exceed EUR 10 million while that of micro firms (less than 10 employees) should not exceed EUR 2 million. Alternatively, balance sheets for medium, small and micro enterprises should not exceed EUR 43 million, EUR 10 million and EUR 2 million, respectively.

Source Publication:
OECD, 2005, OECD SME and Entrepreneurship Outlook: 2005, OECD Paris, page 17.

Statistical Theme: Industry and services statistics

Created on Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Last updated on Friday, December 02, 2005