Dyzo, Belgium

About Dyzo

Dyzo was established in 2015 as a result of a merger between two organizations. Efrem and Tussenstap. Dyzo is a not for profit organisation operating in the Flanders Region, Belgium. The core mission of Dyzo is to provide advice and support to self-employed in distress. The annual number of bankruptcies in this region is 5 000 bankruptcies with 30 000 potential clients for Dyzo.

There are just two criteria to select Dyzo’s target group:

The entrepreneur meets problems he cannot resolve him selves with proper means or within the expectations of the bank sector.
The entrepreneur is willing to provide the necessary information Dyzo needs in order to help solving the situation and the entrepreneur and has agreed to floow Dyzo’s recommendations.

Each year, Dyzo helps approximately 2 600 self-employed, which is about 8,6% of the potential clients. Of course, this does not mean that that all 2.600 companies have been saved from bankruptcy. In fact, a bankruptcy can often be seen as the best solution to a financial crisis.

Dyzo measures its contribution to economic welfare and to psychological wellbeing of the individuals asking for help equally much. But ranking psychological welfare just as high as economical welfare means that Dyzo meets a kind of a paradox in relation to the measuring the impact of Dyzos work. Most interventions stop after a short period of approximately 3 months and Dyzo expect the positive effects for the entrepreneur to show much later - often after as long as 3 or more years after Dyzo’s intervention. After as long a period as 3 or more years most of the entrepreneurs who have benefitted from Dyzo’s services have often forgotten about about Dyzo, which makes it hard to measure the impact of Dyzo.

Furthermore, it is difficult to measure the economic impact of Dyzo, since approximately 20% of the people who contact Dyzo are

company owners who wish to stop their activity, but they do not know how to do this, or
former company owners who face problems related to their former company.

In a sample of the remaining 80% of Dyzo’s clients, Dyzo has been able to conclude that 50% of the clients in this group were still in business 4 years after their first contact with Dyzo.

In order to have a suitable KPI measuring system, Dyzo has developed a range of KPIs in collaboration with the Flemish agency for entrepreneurship and innovation. Dyzo expect to meet most of the targets set in the newly developed KPI-system by the end of 2017. The KPIs are centred on several areas of interest for Dyzo and the Flemish Agency of Enterprise and Innovation such as social security measures, the number of companies that Dyzo has been able to save from bankruptcy, and the number of unviable companies that have been successfully closed.

Key activities

All self-employed in distress receive advice and support via telephone or e-mail for free. Some of Dyzo’s clients may receive additional services in the form of visits to the company, and guidance for the execution of crisis management actions.

More specifically, the key activities of Dyzo are:

A hotline providing advice and support to self-employed in distress.
An informative website
Juridical helpdesk: 1 day/week at 1 EUR for 10 minutes. In addition, Dyzo is collaborating with specialized lawyers who provide legal assistance to Dyzo’s clients – the first hour is for free. The lawyers pay 5.000 EUR/year to Dyzo.
A few retired accountants volunteer to provide assistance on a pro bono basis (only for a limited number of cases)
Seminars to talk about and discuss crisis management and failure with self-employed, public officials and stakeholders. The seminars provide funding for Dyzo, but they are also important for developing an understanding of crisis and failure and a supportive culture. 

Dyzo have 10 employees and 20 volunteers associated to the organisation. The employees take care of administration, seminaries, the hotline, website and of the overall guidance of the companies. Dyzo’s employees can refer entire cases or secondary tasks to volunteers and engage in saving companies and helping entrepreneurs in companies that cannot be saved. The volunteers only engaged in saving companies. The group of volunteers mainly consists of entrepreneurs that have experienced a bankruptcy themselves, retired accountants or people from the financial sector.

Dyzo’s services to the entrepreneurs are primarily funded by the Flemish Agency for Entrepreneurship and are free of charge. Only when the local welfare authorities ask Dyzo for written reports and boots-on-the-ground support in relation to the entrepreneurs, Dyzo will charge for their services. In these cases, the local welfare organisations will pay a fee of 250 € or the fee will be paid by the local authority, often in the context of a yearly subscription. The price for this subscription depends on the number of inhabitants in the municipality in which the local welfare authority is resident.

Theres is a steady flow of clients to Dyzo, and Dyzo does not pro-actively contact companies in distress otherwise than though the organisation’s newsletter. The company owners typically contact Dyzo using 3 main channels:

Online. Through the website, ads or through reviews and articles on other websites.
Intermediate parties refer Dyzo to the entrepreneur. Local welfare authorities are very active and an important source to entrepreneurs. .
Customers who know Dyzo lead others to Dyzo.

After the initial contact is made, the entrepreneur fills out a form on Dyzo’s website. This information is subsequently sent to an advisor in the entrepreneur’s own region, who develops a rescue plan based on the information provided. Afterwards, the entrepreneur in collaboration with Dyzo then implements the rescue plan.

The total annual budget (2016) for Dyzo is about 800.000 EUR. Dyzo is primarily funded by the Flemish government (500.000 EUR) and local welfare authorities (150.000 EUR). Another part of comes from activities organizing events from other partners. A substantial part of Dyzo’s funding comes from seminars (50.000 EUR) and to a lesser extent EU funding for the project Early Warning Europe (10.000 EUR).

Key success factors

The key success factors for Dyzo are:

The first contact between Dyzo and the entrepreneurs: Is very important that the entrepreneur contact Dyzo as early as possible since an important success factor is that the entrepreneur still has funds available.
Contact to the local authorities: Legal changes in Belgium in the form of new and improved laws makes it important for Dyzo to have close contact to local authorities in order to be up to date with the latest development and to be able to advice the entrepreneurs as efficient as possible.
Help the entrepreneur with a fresh perspective on things: Dyzo needs to be able to provide new perspectives on the entrepreneur’s situation and options in order to provide added value to the entrepreneur.

Main challenges

To keep up with the latest legal changes within the entrepreneurial area in Belgium e.g. economic issues, changes in business regulation, changes concerning insolvency law and bankruptcy procedures, etc.
To get additional funding for Dyzo to meet the demand: An increasing number of entrepreneurs ask Dyzo for help, and the current budget is too small to meet this demand.

Key learning points

Projects need to have a long perspective. Meaningful projects take time to make and finalize and organisations need to start new projects in proper time in order to succeed.  
Remember to work on the public opinion. It is important to communicate with the different shareholders especially the local authorities in order to succeed.

Further information:
Website: www.dyzo.be

Mr Pol Vermoere, pol.vermoere@dyzo.be