If you start your own business but do not have enough capital to make the necessary investments, there are various types of funds for which you can apply either from the state or development banks. When applying for these funds, your business plan is of great significance. To find out how you can write a solid, convincing business plan, visit unternehmenswelt.de.
Generally speaking, the following financial support options are available:
Grants from the Employment Agency or the Jobcentre
Start-up Grant ("Gründerzuschuss")
If you have been unemployed for at least one day and still have at least 150 days' of entitlement to unemployment benefit I ("Arbeitslosengeld I") and would like to be self-employed full-time, you can apply for the so-called start-up grant ("Gründerzuschuss") from the Employment Agency, directly at the branch office responsible for you. In order to receive the start-up grant, you must submit a convincing business plan, a copy of your tax registration and a so-called "viability certificate" ("Tragfähigkeitsbescheinigung") - i.e. a confirmation from a business consultant, an expert from the chamber of industry and commerce (IHK) or an specialist from a start-up centre who support your business plan as well-thought of and reasonable. You will also need to submit a CV and all the credentials and certificates which prove your qualifications to your case officer. If your application is approved, on top of the start-up grant, you will receive your monthly unemployment benefit I for six months plus an additional € 300 for your health insurance and retirement insurance. Furthermore, you can attend various seminars and workshops on different topics (e.g. accounting, marketing, etc.) free of charge. After the first six months, there is also the possibility to receive a monthly subsidy of 300 € for a further nine months. Keep in mind that you are not entitled to a start-up grant- so whether you receive it or not depends on your case officer's decision.
Initial financial support ("Einstiegsgeld")
If you receive unemployment benefit II and want to become self-employed full-time, you can apply for the so-called initial financial support ("Einstiegsgeld"). In order to receive it, you need to present a convincing business plan, your CV and a copy of your registration with the Tax Office. Your case officer may also request an expert's opinion about your business plan. The amount of the initial financial support depends on the duration of the time you have been unemployed and the size of your so-called "community of dependence" ("Bedarfsgemeinschaft"); so it is usually assessed for each case separately. You also have the option to apply for additional money for goods (such as a computer) that you need for your work. Altogether, you can benefit from the initial financial support for a total of up to 24 months. Whether you will be granted such financial aid depends on your case officer; i.e. you are not necessarily entitled to it.
Please note: You should convince your case officer at the Employment Agency about your qualifications and the business plan you have. Your case officer will only agree to provide you with the "Einstiegsgeld" if he/she is assured it is going to work.
Discounted loans from development banks
A loan from a development bank (such as KfW development bank) is generally more affordable than a conventional loan, as the development banks have lower interest rates. Furthermore, you can often arrange a repayment-free period, so that you do not have to start repaying from the very beginning. Keep in mind that you have to apply for these discounted loans in advance. Plus, you cannot apply for such loans directly: you must first contact your regular bank, and they will then forward your application to the development bank.
Loan Security from guarantee banks ("Bürgschaftsbanken")
A so-called "Bürgschaftsbank" can assume liability for loans on your behalf. In order to receive a credit, you usually have to prove that you can repay the loan even if your business plan fails. If you do not have collateral, a guarantee bank can assume the liability and therefore, increase your chances of securing a loan. You cannot apply for such loan security directly through the guarantee bank but must do so through your regular bank.
The federal-state Grants
On deutschland-startet.de and fuer-gruender.de, you can search for funding options for your business idea in your federal state of residence. Depending on where you live and your personal situation, there are different support programmes available for you. On both websites, you will find a short questionnaire- after filling it, you will be presented with the suitable support programmes free of charge. You can also call 0800-5895505 (cost-free) and directly ask your questions concerning funding (in German).