It's been two years since we launched our free online educational program, the Amazon Small Business Accelerator. What began as a direct response to help European start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, has strengthened into an education tool to support any entrepreneur in building their business and developing digital skills to start selling both offline and online (on- or off-Amazon). It’s time to measure the impact of the program in the EU.

We’re pleased to announce that the program has trained over 130,000 entrepreneurs over the last two years in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. To make this happen, we have invested over €7 million and worked with around 70 local partners to deliver not only e-learning content, but also dedicated events on key topics such as multi-channel commerce and building business resilience. The purpose of this program is in line with the policy objectives of the 2023  European Year of Skills, including helping SMEs to digitally transition by providing them with the relevant skills (the Digital Economy and Society Index shows that four out of ten adults and every third person who works in Europe lack basic digital skills). The Amazon Small Business Accelerator is also well-aligned with many other EU policy initiatives, such as the Digital Europe Program, which is aimed at ensuring that SMEs and start-ups have access to investment, support and digital training, and to help them to thrive in a business-friendly environment and make the most of cross-border activities within and outside the EU. This is important work. SMEs account for around 99% of all businesses in the EU, and over the past five years were responsible for creating around 85% of new jobs.

Supporting digitization and export sales

We asked German, French, Italian and Spanish entrepreneurs to give us feedback on their experience of participating in the Amazon Small Business Accelerator, and many of them told us about the significant benefits for their business in completing the program. In those countries, the program helped around 70% of entrepreneurs start their own business, whether physically, digitally, or both. Over 95% of participants also felt the program taught them new skills.

More than 60% said that the program had helped them expand their business internationally (including more than 65% of participants in Spain). Between launch in 2020 and November 2022, we saw an increase in the numbers of German, French, Italian and Spanish SMEs selling both intra-EU, and extra-EU, in Amazon stores – over 70,000 SMEs with over €6 billion in export sales. These figures are particularly impressive as they span some of the most economically challenging months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Accelerating the growth of SMEs in the EU

The Amazon Small Business Accelerator trained more than 35,000 entrepreneurs in both France and Italy, and more than 30,000 in both Germany and in Spain. And we’ve recently launched an educational program in Sweden. New sales generation is vital for any entrepreneur, and it is notable that more than 65% of respondents felt the program increased their sales. For 30 years, Intersport Haindl was a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer for sports equipment, with a couple of stores in the Munich area. “It took us a long time to decide before we made the move into online retail. After all, sports equipment and apparel traditionally require a lot of in-person advice,” explains general manager Hans-Peter Trefzer. But during the COVID-19 pandemic Intersport Haindl decided to go online. “It took just four weeks from the first contact with Amazon to the first order. Together with the store business, sales doubled in a short time.”

We are proud of these findings, which reinforce our commitment to create meaningful partnerships with thousands of European entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs; by providing innovative capabilities, commercial and digital skills to ensure these businesses can expand across EU Member State borders and beyond.

Our upskilling commitments

We want to make it easy for people to have access to the skills they need to grow their careers and businesses. Amazon is investing to provide free skills training to employees—helping them further their careers in high-paying, in-demand roles—and is committing to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people around the world, with programs available to anyone. Read our upskilling commitments to find out more.