Norbert Kadau – A seal of approval for entrepreneurs

The number of business start-ups supported by Bürgschaftsbank Hessen is growing year on year. 2012 saw us collateralise 145 start-up projects with an average credit volume of around 240,000 euros. And our entrepreneurs are ex­­tremely successful: the proportion of those who have to close down again is just two per cent per year. This is very different to the proportion among other start-up projects in Germany. According to the Start-up Monitor published by the KfW in May 2013, almost one in every three entrepreneurs (31 per cent) had to give up their business between 2005 and 2012. But why is the chance of success so much higher for entrepreneurs who are supported by a security or guarantee from Bürgschaftsbank Hessen?


The answer is clear: anyone who wants to receive a credit security from Bürg­­schafts­­bank Hessen must first pass through a process of assistance and demands. Our consultants and those of the network of chambers and associations we work with provide the applicants with advice and practical help. At the same time, their start-up plans are subjected to strict quality controls. This review of the project helps the entrepreneurs to make realistic plans. As a result, those who go on to receive funding from the BBH have a very high probability of success.


There are two ways to obtain a security. Applicants who have a confident relationship with their bank should first pre­­sent their plans to them. If the project receives a good reception there, the issue of credit collateral will soon be raised. Entrepreneurs who are unable to provide enough collateral themselves need a part­­ner. As long as the collateralisation needed is not higher than 1.25 million euros, this is where the Bürgschaftsbank comes in. Our role begins much earlier in the second option, for entrepreneurs who have not yet built up a relationship with their bank – they can approach us with their business idea directly via the “Bürgschaft ohne Bank” (security without a bank, BoB) programme. If, once we have examined the plans, we agree to provide a security, the entrepreneur then takes this to a bank of his choice. The bank then finds it much easier to provide credit, as it knows that the concept has already stood up to scrutiny from a competent institution and is excellently collateralised, should it fail despite this. In most cases, this security also leads to better credit conditions.

The retail and service sectors were way out in front in 2012, with 39 entrepreneurs each. One of these was Julian Zimmermann, who took over the old-established company terranova Zimmer­­mann Touristik KG in Zeppelinheim in January 2012 – after over ten years on the staff, he is now the boss. terranova’s holidays are designed entirely independently to a high standard for demanding clients. In summer it is cycling tours that attract the most customers, while winter is the season for long-haul and cultural trips. The average customer is in his or her mid-fifties with a high level of education and a large income, and around 60 per cent are returning customers. These are also the people that bring in 70 per cent of new customers through word of mouth. In fact, terranova claims to have customers who have booked over 70 holidays through the company.


However, even successful companies have to face up to the challenge of generational change at some point. For the three Uhlig children, the second gener­­ation of the family who founded the busi­­ness 32 years ago, taking the company on was not an option. But it was for one of their staff, Julian Zimmermann, who holds a degree in Geography, majoring in Economics and Tourism. He joined terranova as far back as 2001 and was grad­­ually prepared for the take­­over of the company over the course of the last few years. He therefore does not need to worry about problems with the business, and both the family and the staff also see the change at the top as a very positive step. However, Zim­­mermann had neither the capital nor the collateral he needed to finance the takeover, so he contacted Bürgschafts­bank Hessen, who checked the plans thoroughly be­­fore offering him a security through the Bürgschaft ohne Bank programme. “The process was consistent and transparent, and both sides laid all their cards on the table,” says Zimmermann, looking back positively.

The same could be said by Antje Vetter, who was able to take over a physiotherapy practice in Mar­­­­burg; Chris­­tine Mulke, who founded her own business for organic potted herbs attached to her parents’ nursery in Wiesbaden; Giorgio De Luca, who was able to take over the ESB Auto­­klinik in Frankfurt; and Sabine Schmitt, who gave Frank­­furt’s Nordend a boost with her boutique Apfelgrün. Without the collateral provided by Bürg­­schafts­­bank Hessen, many of these businesses might not exist. By August 2013, BBH had al­­ready helped 85 entrepreneurs in Hes­­sen to make the leap to starting their own business. Once again, the front runner is the service industry. In the future, we at Bürg­­schafts­­bank Hessen will con­­tinue to do everything we can to support the start-up scene in Hessen.

Norbert_KadauThe forty-year career of this qualified bank clerk has included positions at a savings bank and a regional state bank. He has experience in the credit business, including over 30 years in corpor­ate banking. He has been managing director of Bürgschaftsbank Hessen since 1991 and his responsibilities are focused on the business fields of retail, industry, transport and the service sector.