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Decline in business start-ups in Germany has slowed: 547,000 new businesses were founded in 2018

Press Release from 2019-04-16 / Group, KfW Research

  • Rate is stable after three years of sharp decline
  • More full-time, fewer part-time businesses were founded
  • Share of women in start-up activity has climbed to 40%

After dropping sharply over three years, start-up activity in Germany stabilised again in 2018. With 547,000 entrepreneurs, the number of business founders was just slightly below the previous year’s level (-10,000, or -2%), according to a preliminary evaluation by the KfW Start-up Monitor.

“The robust state of the economy means business opportunities, and that has a positive impact on start-up activity”, said Dr Jörg Zeuner, Chief Economist of KfW. “Nevertheless, it has yet to bring about a trend reversal. The number of business founders is not growing but remains on a low level.” The main reason self-employment is not attracting more people is the continuing excellent shape of Germany’s labour market. “Potential entrepreneurs are still finding other very attractive occupational opportunities. As a result, they often prefer to take up salaried employment.”

Start-up activity in 2018 was more balanced than ever. Full-time and part-time start-ups were nearly equal – although as a result of opposing trends. The number of full-time business founders grew to 255,000 persons (+21,000). The number of part-time business founders, in turn, fell for the fifth consecutive year to now 292,000 persons (-31,000).

The positive development of new businesses founded by women made a significant contribution to stabilising the number of business start-ups in 2018. The rate of women venturing into self-employment grew by 4% on the previous year to 216,000. The share of female start-ups has rebounded to 40% after decreasing for two years in a row. Start-up activity among males, on the other hand, continued to decrease, with 331,000 men starting a new business, 5% fewer than in the previous year.

The preliminary evaluation of the KfW Start-up Monitor can be found at:

The full report with all findings on start-up activity in 2018 will be available in early summer.

The database:
The KfW Start-up Monitor is a representative telephone survey of the population on start-up activity in Germany which has been conducted annually since the year 2000. The analysis provides a comprehensive picture of start-up activity in Germany. It collects a wide range of information on business founders and projects as well as on the continuation of start-up projects in the particularly critical first three business years. For more information go to www.kfw.de/gruendungsmonitor


Portrait Wolfram Schweickhardt


Wolfram Schweickhardt


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