SMEs Overview

Italian SMEs – Overview
In terms of economic relevance, the overwhelming majority (99.9%) of enterprises active in the Italian economy (the third largest in Europe after the German and the French ones) are SMEs and they account for 81% of the workforce and 68.1% of the value added in Italy. The sector has a relatively small-scale structure: the share of micro-enterprises is higher than the EU average and this particular feature does not depend on the sector composition.

Distribution of firms in Italy
By firm size
Firm size (employees) Number %
All firms 3,867,813 100.0%
SMEs (0-249) 3,864,582 99.9%
Micro (0-9) 3,660,256 94.6%
Small (10-49) 184,925 4.8%
Medium (50-249) 19,401 0.5%
Large (250+) 3,231 0.1%

Note: Data excludes financial and insurance enterprises. Non-employer enterprises are included.


SMEs constitute the backbone of the Italian productive system: The 94,6% of them have less than 10 employees, whereas the 4,8% have 10 – 49 employees and only the 0,5% have 50 – 250 employees.


As far as the economic sectors are concerned, 76% of SMEs having less than 10 employees concentrate in the service sector. This rate decreases to 46% for the group of 10 – 250 employees.


The service sector is a major contributor to the Italian economy. It accounts for approximately 73 percent of GDP and is also the fastest growing segment. Tourism, retail and financial services represent a significant part of the sector. The industrial sector accounts for approximately 25 percent of GDP with the remainder contributed by agriculture.


Motor vehicles, fashion and luxury goods, life science, aerospace, chemicals, information and communication technology, logistics, renewable energy, and precision machinery are among the most important sectors of Italian manufacturing.


PMI are mostly diffused in the North West and North East areas. The region with the highest number of PMI is Lombardy, with the 20% of the manufacturing enterprises, followed by Veneto and Emilia Romagna.



SME definition – Italy


In accordance with Eurostat standards, the Italian National Institute of Statistics defines small and medium enterprises as firms with fewer than 250 employees. In detail, micro-enterprises and small firms have, respectively, less than 10 and 10-49 employees, while medium-sized enterprises are defined as those with 50-249 employees.


The SME definition used by financial institutions
The Bank of Italy classifies data on business lending by firm size: small firms are defined as limited partnerships, general partnerships, informal partnerships, de facto companies and sole proprietorships with fewer than 20 workers.



Sources: The Bank of Italy, Reuters, Kpmg, OECD, ISTAT