ABSTRACT

A partnership was established between Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain in the framework of the Leonardo da Vinci Community Project to analyse financial needs affecting small and medium - sized enterprises (SMEs).
The analysis was conducted from the point of view of demand (SMEs) and supply (Bank Operators). (Questionnaire on competence: Belgium and Italy). Scientific support for defining methodology was provided by Greece, Research Center, Athens University of Economics and Business, in conjunction with Mediocredito Centrale, the project leader.
The questionnaires for the surveys were drawn up by Mediocredito Centrale on the basis of indications from the , Research Center, Athens University. Mediocredito Centrale acted as coordinator and consultant throughout the Project.

1. Small and medium-sized enterprises

The survey on the use of financial tools by SMEs was conducted by each of the partners from two points of view:
- that of national organisations supporting SMEs (privileged witnesses)
- that of SMEs.

1.1 Privileged witnesses

The survey on privileged witnesses was conducted by:
- BELGIUM: Universitè de Liege, Centre de Recherche et de Documentation PME
- ITALY: Confederazione Italiana della Piccola e Media Industria
- SPAIN: Confederacion de Empresarios de Andalucia

The survey was conducted in two phases: distribution of questionnaire to specifically selected representatives of bodies supporting the SMEs; individual interviews.
Data was collected and processed using a special Excell data base that allowed the calculation of frequency distribution (absolute and relative) and the relevant correlations.

QUESTIONNAIRE (Annexe I)
The questionnaire was organised in two separate sections:
- part one: "witness's" registration data and level of education
- part two: "witness's"opinion on use of financial tools by SMEs.

1.2 Use of financial tools by SMEs
The survey on the SMEs was conducted by:
- BELGIUM: Universitè de Liege, Centre de Recherche et de Documentation PME
- ITALY: Confederazione Italiana della Piccola e Media Industria
- SPAIN: Confederacion de Empresarios de Andalucia
The sample for the survey on SMEs was determined on the basis of data from:
- BELGIUM: Central des Bilans, Belgian National Bank
- ITALY: Centrale dei Bilanci ed Osservatorio sulle piccole e medie imprese, Mediocredito Italiano
- SPAIN: data base, Confederacion de Empresarios de Andalucia

The SMEs (Belgium and Italy) were selected on the basis on Community parameters:
- not more tha 250 employees
- turnover not exceeding 80 billion
The following parameters were used to select enterprises in Spain:
- fewer than 300 employees
- sector of activity: agriculture, fishing, industry and services
- location: Andalucia

The survey was a random sample type survey. The data from questionnaires were entered into a special data base (Excell or DBP for Windows) that allowed the determination of frequency distribution of response, the subsequent processing of results, and appropriate correlations among variables deemed to be significant.
The results of the survey refer to a non-biased sample.

QUESTIONNAIRE
The questionnaire was divided into 5 sections:
- Section (A): registration data of enterprises
- Section (B): level of education in enterprises
- Section (C): financial data of SMEs
- Section (D): (the longest section): interviewees' knowledge and use of financial tools
- Section (E): whether enterprise has a financial division and relations with institutes of credits.

2. Bank operators
The analysis on competence conducted by Credit Professionnel (Belgium) and Mediocredito Centrale (Italy) was conducted by distributing a specific questionnaire to all employees in contact with the "enterprise" market or having outside contact in general. The sample was not a random sample. In Belgium the questionnaire was followed by several interviews.

Questionnaire (see enclosures)
The questionnaire was composed of modules concerning:
The questionnaire was divided into 5 sections:
- Section (A): relations with external interlocutors in general
- Section (B): characteristics of relations with clients
- Section (C): management of relations with clients
- Section (D): capacity to solve problems raised by clients
- Section (E): training needs perceived by employees.