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Overview - Mittelstand

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine of the German economy. This is illustrated by statistical data on the macro-economic significance of SMEs and by SME key indicators for Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia (cf. the table below). The following data are based on IfM Bonn's definition of SMEs.

Please note that we currently provide only a selection of the most important statistics on our English website.

For further statistics, please refer to our German section.

Macro-economic significance of SMEs

  • In 2018, approx. 3.47 million German enterprises classified as small and medium-sized enterprises, accounting for 99.5% of the total number of enterprises with turnover from goods and services and/or employees.1
  • German SMEs generated an annual turnover of approx. 2.40 bn € in 2018, which represents 34.4% of the total turnover of German enterprises.1  
  • Approx. 17.77 million employees subject to social insurance contributions were employed by SMEs in Germany in 2018, accounting for 57.6% of total employment (subject to social insurance contributions).1
  • At the end of 2018, some 81.7% of all apprentices were trained by establishments with less than 500 employees (subject to social insurance contribution).2
  • Export turnover of German SMEs added up to approx. 213.8 bn € in 2018, accounting for 15.9% of the total German export turnover.2
  • German SMEs had a share of almost 61.1% in total net value added in Germany in 2018.2
  • Businesses with less than 500 employees spent 10.4 bn € on R&D, equal to a share of 11.2% in total R&D expenditures in the business sector in 2018.