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Micro-entrepreneurs – the growth engine of Europe, powered by Holvi


BBVA | New Digital Businesses | We're Banking on DisruptionMicro-enterprises, though small in size, have come to be known as the growth engine of Europe, forming a significant share of our entrepreneurial landscape. According to OECD statistics (2016), between 82% to 95% of the European business population are micro-enterprises, with self-employed individuals (a segment of micro-enterprises) numbering a whopping 30.6 million in the European Union in 2016.

And Holvi, acquired by BBVA in 2016, is here to power that growth engine. Holvi is a banking service designed for the small business owner of today. Serving micro-entrepreneurs is at the heart of everything we do.

What is a micro-enterprise?

A micro-enterprise is any business with 1 to 9 employees. A typical micro-enterprise is a self-employed “just me” business without any employees – these include freelancers, part-time side jobs, people finding new opportunities in the gig economy or just individuals who want to make a living on their own terms.

So now that we know what a micro-enterprise is, let’s find out a bit more about micro-entrepreneurs themselves. What, for example, motivates someone to be self-employed?

In most cases, the answer is quite simple: freedom. According to Holvi’s survey among German freelancers (who are micro-entrepreneurs), the most typical reason to become a freelancer is the freedom that comes with it – freedom to be your own boss, choose your own projects and work when and where you want.

Sometimes the motivator can be simply wanting to do more of the things you love and earn some money while doing it. We see people turning their hobbies, passions and other skills into side jobs.

And of course, sometimes the reason is as mundane as need for some extra money. New platforms, such as Uber, give people more opportunities to earn extra income on their own terms.

Holvi brings freedom back to business

So do micro-entrepreneurs really have more freedom?

It might seem like micro-entrepreneurs can freely choose when to go on holiday but how can one leave the country if there’s a chance that a potential customer needs a project done right away? Working eight hours a day on something you’re passionate about was the dream, but somehow you’re spending more time returning emails, sending invoices and filing receipts.

Holvi’s job is to guarantee that micro-entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom that made them want to start a business in the first place. Holvi wants to help these self-starters save time and energy so they can focus on what matters to them. Less time on admin means more time pursuing interesting projects, more time developing their business, and more time looking for new business opportunities.

Holvi also frees small business owners from being bound to a single location – move your office to Bali, and your banking comes with you!

With Estonia’s e-Residency programme, Holvi has taken the borderless entrepreneurship mission even further. Through this groundbreaking collaboration, you can apply for an e-Residency and set up your business in Estonia, and do your banking with Holvi – all without ever setting foot in Estonia or a bank branch.


What annoys freelancers?

Starting and growing a business is hard work. Freelancers often complain about irregular income, tiresome bookkeeping and complicated bureaucracy – all issues that can hinder one’s ability to run and grow a successful business.

So what if your bank could actually alleviate the pains that come with these issues and help you run your business?

Holvi is more than your average business current account. With Holvi, you’ll get a complete set of tools to manage your finances. Invoicing becomes an integrated part of a small business owner’s daily life – with Holvi, you’ll never get short-changed due to unsent invoices. And extending your sales channels to a Holvi online shop or a payment terminal adds even more revenue possibilities.

Add to that bookkeeping preparation, including filing receipts and categorising expenses, and tools to tackle other financial administrative responsibilities, and you have Holvi. With Holvi, freelancers can easily keep track of how much money they are actually making, know exactly how much they should put aside to report their VAT and prepare for bookkeeping without the hassle. Plus, they’ll get access to Holvi’s network of industry experts to help with things like taxes and bookkeeping.

Micro-entrepreneurs are unhappy with their banks

Micro-entrepreneurs and freelancers are wary of what traditional banks are offering them. In a recent Holvi survey, we found that as much as 88% of freelancers felt that traditional banks served them poorly. And 75% even reported receiving bad advice from their bank.

So why do micro-entrepreneurs feel so underserved?

Traditional banks don’t typically focus on helping micro-enterprises, and few offer services specifically catered to this customer segment (who, after all, represent the vast majority of the European business population).

Holvi is the entrepreneur’s best friend

Holvi understands the unique needs (and pains) of the micro-entrepreneur. Founded by entrepreneurs in 2011, Holvi has made  its mission to help micro-entrepreneurs succeed. One way to do this is to make starting and running a business as easy (and digital) as possible.

While traditionally banks have not been focusing on offering micro-entrepreneurs anything extra, Holvi believes that business banking should be more than a current account, payment card and monthly statement. Since its founding, Holvi has worked to expand “entrepreneurship as a service” – the idea that banking can actually help you run your business.

After all, what’s the most important – and the scarcest – resource for freelancers and micro-entrepreneurs?


By combining all the tools you need in one place and automating as much as possible, Holvi helps you take back your time. With Holvi, entrepreneurs can focus on what really matters – their customers, their passion and, most importantly, their freedom.

Holvi, Holvi Payment Services Ltd is regulated by the Financial Supervisory Authority of Finland as an Authorised Payment Institution. The current account issued by Holvi is a payment account and the funds held on the account are managed as segregated customer funds. Funds on the payment account are not covered by deposit insurance and the funds do not accrue interest.


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