IAPMEI is a specialised public agency within the Portuguese Ministry for the Economy, created to provide technical and financial support to enterprises, in particular to SMEs.
Along its 30 years’ experience, IAPMEI has developed into a stable, efficient and well-known organisation with a staff of around 600, 14 regional offices and a wide range of controlling interests in associate organisations (both private and state-owned) involved in SME support schemes in Portugal.
IAPMEI’s main mission is to actively participate in the design and implementation of integrated strategies for the support of Portuguese corporate activity, with a special focus on SMEs and with a view to modernisation, innovation and international competitivity in the industrial, trade and services sectors.
Its main goals are:
- To design, implement, control and assess SME support strategies.
IAPMEI provides financial support to corporate investment through the operational management of several national, regional and sector-oriented support programmes. Recent Communitary examples include PEDIP, PROCOM, SIR, SIMIT, RETEX, IC-PME, PRATIC and PRODIBETA;
- To obtain, process and disseminate relevant technical and legal information for entrepreneurial use.
IAPMEI provides Portuguese SMEs with “processed” information on various areas of company management and the business environment, through its technical publications. IAPMEI makes full use of its Internet web page. It includes an inter-active letter-box for queries, entrepreneurial information and signposting for all its “clients”. IAPMEI also developed the SIN-mPE Information System, a network of front-desks where entrepreneurs and prospective investors can obtain all the information they need concerning their entrepreneurial activity;
- To develop administrative facilitation.
Since late 1997, IAPMEI has set up a regional network of six Business Formalities Centres, where prospective entrepreneurs can register a business start-up in only 2-3 weeks. With BFCs, entrepreneurs benefit from a single location, practical help and advice from specially-trained front-office attendants, speeded-up procedures (ICT-based) and a “client-oriented” pro-active philosophy. By the end of 1999, 36% of all companies set up in Portugal were being incorporated through the BFC network;
- To manage financial assistance programmes and to promote SME access to the stock market and to alternative sources of financing.
IAPMEI has developed an integrated Financial Engineering Programme to encourage SMEs to expand and diversify their sources of finance through Venture Capital, Participating Bonds (EIB Credit Line) Mutual Guarantees, Fixed-Asset Management Funds (FUNGEPI) and access to the “Second Market” (LSEA + EASD).