European Retail Experts: START Testimonials – UNIZO, Belgium
Publish date: 08.01.2024

Meet Chiel Sterckx, Retail Expert Manager at UNIZO Retail. With a passion for empowering independent entrepreneurs, Chiel orchestrates impactful campaigns, advocacy initiatives, press releases, and workshops. His commitment lies in supporting shop owners, whether they operate online or offline, navigating the dynamic landscape of retail.

1. Please tell us more about the pathway of UNIZO

UNIZO is not only the largest organization representing 115,000 independent entrepreneurs in Flanders and Brussels but also provides a robust pathway for their growth and development. For over 75 years, we have pioneered networking events, training sessions, courses, debates, and impactful campaigns tailored to empower and professionalize self-employed entrepreneurs. Our commitment to supporting strong entrepreneurs is reflected in our mantra: “Strong entrepreneurs deserve the strongest entrepreneurial network.”

2. What is the greatest success UNIZO has achieved so far in your field of competence?

Our success in the retail sector can be attributed to two key areas: campaigns and advocacy efforts. UNIZO spearheads initiatives like the “Winkelhier” campaign, emphasizing the benefits of local shopping, and organizes impactful events like “The Weekend of the Client,” Belgium’s largest shopping weekend. Moreover, our advocacy efforts have led to significant increases in pensions for self-employed entrepreneurs. Additionally, UNIZO’s focus on retail includes various actions aimed at enhancing the efficiency of running a shop.

3. What do you see as an added value of project START in relation to the existing training material for the internationalization of SMEs?

Project START addresses a critical gap in existing training materials by providing clear and comprehensive information on foreign opportunities, regulations, networks, and other aspects essential for conducting business abroad. This added value equips SMEs with the necessary knowledge and resources to navigate international markets effectively.

4. In what way do you think the collaboration between project START and UNIZO can benefit in the present and in the future?

The collaboration between project START and UNIZO holds immense potential for the present and future of SMEs aiming to expand internationally. Both entities bring unique expertise and networks to the table, which, when combined, offer synergistic benefits. This collaboration not only strengthens the support system for SMEs but also fosters innovation and growth in the global marketplace.

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