Learn with 11Onze Training Courses
11Onze makes available to its users the training courses that agents are giving to their colleagues. From cryptocurrencies and derivatives to macroeconomics: we learn as a community and train each other.
The 11Onze agents continue their training, and staff specialised in a certain subject share their knowledge with courses for the rest of their colleagues. This community training initiative began in June, and now 11Onze is opening it up to the users of La Plaça so that everyone can access this training in economic and financial matters.
If summer is a good time for training and learning new things, in the Learn section of 11Onze you will find 30-minute formation courses on very specific topics. We start with a first introductory chapter on cryptocurrencies with the agent Aitor Canudas. ETFs, invoice factoring, interest rate macroeconomics, asset classes or asset-backed loans, among others, will also be covered. The courses are taught by agents such as Marc Jara, Joan Benedicto, Nuria Rambla, Pilar Oltra, Albert Chic, David López, Sergi Colell, Jordi Sánchez, Jordi Oller, Amadeu Vilaginés and the aforementioned Aitor Canudas. Now, given their knowledge, they take on the role of trainers for their colleagues and the 11Onze community.
As always, people who watch the courses will be able to answer a questionnaire at the end to assess the knowledge they have acquired. And, depending on the result, they will earn Peles. A virtual currency, but one that will soon be very real for La Plaça users.
Digital currencies are becoming more common, but it is still quite unknown what they are and how they work. Let’s try to clarify, in a simple way and in five points, their fundamental characteristics.
- A little history of cryptocurrencies
We have to go back to the early eighties of the last century to find the first steps in the idea of a virtual currency protected by cryptography by the hands of David Chaum: the creation of eCash. The final push came in 2008, when the document that developed Bitcoin was published by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto.
With Bitcoin, the first units of which were put into circulation on January 3, 2009, it is considered that cryptocurrencies were definitely born. Its creators described it as “a peer-to-peer cash system”, with no regulation or control by governments or institutions.
- How do cryptocurrencies work?
Encryption, for security reasons, is based on blockchain technology, a data storage structure following algorithms, almost impossible to counterfeit, open to all users, that works like an electronic register book of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In this way a digital currency is created without physical form, but the ownership, the integrity of the transactions, and the control of the creation of new units can be assured. This gives cryptocurrencies the guarantee to be used as money for everyone: to trade, to buy, or to save them.
Legal tender money is under the guarantee of the states, their governments, and the financial institutions, which create and regulate it. This is the basis of the trust that makes citizens use them, as well as making them essential. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, do not depend on or are regulated by any administration. In this way, their value is born of the trust placed in them by their users, of the law of supply and demand.
However, cryptocurrencies seek to achieve this necessary trust with the user, for example, by replicating the essential characteristics of money: being fungible or exchangeable; being divisible into units; being storable and transportable; and having a controlled and limited flow of creation or supply.
The market that is being created by their users, then, is what marks their acceptance and, in return, their value. What we have known so far is that, from the beginning, when only a few experts or technology enthusiasts acquired them, the interest in having cryptocurrencies has experienced a very high growth, to the point of exchanging a Bitcoin for €40,000.
- What are cryptocurrencies for?
As you have deduced, investment has become one of the great motivations for owning cryptocurrencies. Specialised exchanges that work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, buying and selling them non-stop, have even been created. Investors are attracted to these markets by the expectation of profits. But you have to be careful and be willing to accept the risk of high volatility of cryptocurrencies: their price rises and falls by thousands of euros very easily.
Cryptocurrencies can also be used to make purchases, as long as the seller accepts this means of payment. It is not yet possible to say that it is a widespread option, but more and more companies are allowing it and opening gateways to be paid for services or products in cryptocurrencies. Fast payments, in fact, are another of the uses and benefits of digital currencies, as transfers around the world are immediate.
- Buying and saving cryptocurrencies
We have already said that investing in cryptocurrencies is currently highly speculative and risky. The most profitable ones, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, are also considered the highest risk. However, anyone can have them if they buy them, accept them for a fee, or even create or decrypt new ones.
The most common is that the latter option, creation or decryption, is left in the hands of large IT teams dedicated to it, often controlled by economic groups, in what is known as mining cryptocurrencies: generating them by deciphering the algorithm or mathematical problem under which they hide.
Individuals can access them more easily through purchase platforms or financial intermediaries, as well as from ATMs that have been created exclusively to offer and exchange cryptocurrencies, and that are already present in commercial areas, for example. There are also digital applications such as Coinbase or Binance.
Once purchased, they are assigned a unique and personal password, which should be kept in a safe place and not lost, because it is all the guarantee you have of the possession of the cryptocurrencies. This is why there are digital wallets, a software or application where it is possible to store cryptocurrencies.
- The regulation of cryptocurrencies
In 2015, the European Union (EU) established the same validity of the Euro for Bitcoin and other similar cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, in response to the increase of its presence and related investments.
However, let’s remember that cryptocurrencies are born free from the regulation and control of administrations and that, consequently, they see them with some reluctance and consider them as a very speculative and unsuitable asset, if not for the expert investor. When you decide to buy cryptocurrencies, you must know that there are no traditional regulation and supervision services that guarantee their custody.
Finally, remember that the Spanish State obliges to include in the income tax return any expenses or income derived from transactions of purchase and sale with cryptocurrencies. In addition, in October 2020 the Draft Law on Measures to Prevent and Fight Tax Fraud was published, introducing the obligation to provide information on the balances and holders of cryptocurrencies and purchase transactions, collections, payments, and transfers, among other transactions.
84% of the country’s population resides in flats, versus 15.2% who do so in houses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful space. In rural areas, as in the rest of Europe, single-family homes (68.1%) predominate compared to flats (31.9%) according to Idealista
After suffering a pandemic, people look for and appreciate having a terrace, a balcony, bigger or smaller, but having the possibility to go out and be able to breathe.
If you want to live in Barcelona, you have many amenities, but statistically homes are usually smaller and with fewer outdoor areas to enjoy.
In Catalonia there is a very high percentage of people who live in flats instead of houses.
Tips for turning your balcony into a magazine terrace:
- The first tip is to fix the floor. You can choose artificial grass, a wooden floor, or a white floor, which will give you more space. Grass can make you feel like you’re next to a pool, but be aware that you’ll need to do more thorough maintenance. A wooden floor is easy to install and also gives a lot of warmth. You can combine grass and wood, and even add white stones somewhere. I bet you can already imagine it. The most important thing is that, as the space is reduced, the cost will not be excessive.
- Once you have the floor ready, we will continue with railings. If there is nothing that gives you privacy, we recommend that you buy large wicker baskets and put some plants in them, so you avoid being seen from the street. They can also be aluminium or wooden pots. With the excuse of going out to water them, you can enjoy a nice break.
- Another alternative is to place bamboo or similar to cover or decorate, and you can install small lights to illuminate them at night.
- We continue with the table. In the market, you will find a myriad of small tables that can be folded. Some you can put on the wall and, when they are not used, you can fold them and, when it is time to go out and have a coffee, you can unfold them with a single gesture. Round, square, for corners… Depending on the space available, you will find the one that best suits you.
- The same will happen to you with chairs: there are foldable chairs, ideal for small spaces where they do not always have to be unfolded. Let’s make a stop: you can give a very personal touch here. Add some coloured pillows now that summer is coming, and you can change them from time to time. There are some very cheap ones; smooth ones are also a fantastic alternative and, if you are more daring, you can choose a more intense colour, even if it is single-coloured, which will create a very nice atmosphere.
- If you decide you don’t want a table or chairs, but your balcony is a quiet area instead, add a couple of armchairs or even a hanging hammock and a pillow, and you can enjoy a morning of reading or an evening with a glass of wine or cava.
Add a little colour and nature
Surely you’ve heard of them vertical gardens: if you have a blank wall, you can also put some white shelves and add some pots with small green flowers. There are many examples where you will find your inspiration, and they are very easy to install.
As we know, the details make the difference. Once you have made the most important changes mentioned in the previous points, add candles, chandeliers, small light strips, a small rug, a pouf…
And why not make a small urban garden? No matter how small, you can definitely add a pot with some aromatic plants such as basil, mint, parsley, rosemary… The smell when you go out will be so pleasant and, at the same time, you can enjoy the perfect natural seasoning for your salads.
Do not let the sun be a problem
In case of not having an awning (although they last for many years, this may not be the time to make this expense), you can find solutions such as awning fabrics that are fastened to the wall.
If your budget is small, don’t worry, you will surely find small shops near home with all these types of objects that we have mentioned. You can also find all these items in larger supermarkets.
After reading this article, you surely feel like making these changes and improving your terrace. Take advantage now that the good weather is coming and invite a couple of friends to enjoy it.
Behind 11Onze, there are 148 promoters who have committed to creating the first digital fintech community to revolutionise the relationship we have with money. Carles Juanico is a real estate consultant at IAD and one of the people who helped start 11Onze.
Why do you think a community project like this is needed?
I think there is a huge lack of financial knowledge in this country. We have a very low financial level in terms of knowledge, and I am sure this community will help us know this world much better. And if, on top of that, it does so in an ethical way, in collaboration with people from our country, even better. Behind it, there are people who want to do things in a collaborative, ethical, and country-wise way.
What do you expect from La Plaça, 11Onze’s community?
I hope the expectations are met. May this be a community where we can learn from each other and be heard. That is what people want. We do not only want to do what is profitable, which is the most usual today, but that we all have benefits. And I have a lot of hope, because the competition is very low in this sense. There is enough talent in Catalonia, and we are proving it every day with leading companies in all sectors. Many digital entrepreneurs are coming to our country, therefore I am sure that we will do it well.
How do you think customers of financial institutions feel?
Very neglected. They treat us worse every day. They just try to sell us alarms, phones, and stuff. To get an appointment, you have to call; the staff is constantly changing; you do not know your manager… The only good thing is that, technologically, some of them have evolved a lot. But the customer service is a disaster. I hope to have a bank that supports me. A bank that is there to help me, not to kill me with commissions, when I apply for a mortgage, and that makes my day-to-day life easier. I want to be able to make my transfers, check my balances, and perform my day-to-day actions in a fast, agile way, so that when I need to talk to someone, I have someone to support me, answer my questions, and treat me as a person, not as a number. I do not want the bank to try to sell me whatever they want.
How do you think the real estate sector will change after Covid?
Seeing other countries like France, the digital will prevail. The human factor will always be there, but the contact, the way to get there will be completely digital. This will make traditional branches less important. People no longer go to shops or convenience stores. The same will happen to the real estate sector. I belong to IAD Real Estate, which is a PropTech organisation. I firmly believe in the digital world, in collaboration. Today we make all purchases online, we communicate online. The world has become global and communications allow us to be closer than ever.
What is your strength as an entrepreneur?
I have always liked entrepreneurship, initiative, creativity… I am a trained publicist, and creativity has always been my goal. I am from a generation that is not digital. We learned using the pencil and paper, and we have had to pull up our socks. I have done it with great pleasure, because I firmly believe in it. I see that is the trend: the new generations are digital, work at high speed, and learn very quickly. I have tried to keep pace since day one, which has not always been easy!
Dr Xavier Palet became an entrepreneur at the age of 50 after a lifetime spent in healthcare management. He runs ICPA (International Care Patient Assistance), which assists foreign patients who need to use the Catalan health system. He managed the Juan XXIII Hospital in Tarragona and was the manager of the Hospital General de Catalunya. Now, he has decided to be one of the 148 promoters of 11Onze.
Why do you think a new Catalan bank is needed?
The “Catalan banks”, have betrayed us. They are no longer Catalan banks, we can no longer consider them. Having a new Catalan bank is fundamental. I think that sooner or later there has to be a Catalan public bank, 100%. But as long as this is not possible, let’s create a private one. We need it to be a bank free of the grasp of the Spanish deep-state. And 11Onze is this bank. It is essential that we create state structures.
Who do you think 11Onze should be aimed at?
Bearing in mind that more than 90% of Catalonia’s GDP is in the hands of the self-employed and small and medium-sized businesses, they must be a preferential client for 11Onze. But I also go further: why not have the Generalitat de Catalunya as a client? Or the Diputació? Or the city councils?
What do you think will be most appealing about the project?
That we want it to be a bank at the service of customers. A loyal bank, a faithful bank, a social bank, an ethical bank. That its sole purpose is not to make money. That all together we can build a much better and wholesome country towards independence. I think that the application, the tool that customers will be able to use to communicate with 11Onze and to be able to work, will also be surprising. I think it will make an important difference with the rest of the entities.
What do you think is your strength as an entrepreneur?
I am 66 years old. At 50, I decided that I had had enough of working for others and that maybe it was time to take the plunge, to take a risk, to start working for myself. And that’s how I set up my first consultancy, highly specialised in the world of health management, centred in economic aspects and above all with the economy management of hospitals for foreign patients. And I think that this has been my strength, knowing very well a very specific sector in a very underdeveloped market.
“I would never have thought that a bank could fit so well with my values” Laura Carlús is an educator and works as a consultant and administrative manager. She admits that she has never been interested in banks because of their involvement in war conflicts and lack of empathy for their customers. In 11Onze, Carlús has found a project that fits her expectations about the values that a bank should represent today. She is one of the 148 main sponsors behind 11Onze.
What is the reason that led you to become one of the driving forces behind 11Onze?
With 11Onze I had a really incidental encounter, a kind of unexpected attraction. In a way, I felt very identified with the ethical values that this new bank contemplates. It’s true that I’ve never been interested in banks, mainly because they defend interests that I don’t agree with. Somehow, 11Onze has managed to reach a very emotional part of me and has reminded me of the bad treatment I have received from other banks. I am surprised at the possibility of finding a bank that fits my interests and that also bets on a powerful country; it is very exciting, really. I would never have thought that a bank could fit so well with my values.
What are the values that have attracted you most to the 11Onze project?
Many, but perhaps I would highlight working ethically for social convictions and not to extract more money from people. I think it is important for today’s banks to make a social commitment to the environment and to carry out a different kind of management that can reach people. Moreover, it is essential that these projects help in creating a more equitable society, that they help those who want to set up new businesses or projects, but also those who just want to live in peace. It is also important that there is room for initiatives involved in the sustainability of the planet. It is not a utopian idea to create a business with values and soul.
Why do you think there is a need for a Catalan bank with these characteristics?
Simply because it can do it. It’s not that we need it right now, it’s that we have always needed it, so I welcome it! With the pandemic and the economic crisis we are very disillusioned; I feel that the population is very discouraged and demotivated. Young people don’t see their future clearly and this can be a window of opportunity. It would have been great to have it earlier, but now is also an ideal time.
And in this sense, do you think Catalonia can have a powerful bank capable of being competitive with other existing banks?
Of course it can. We are a small country in a big world. We have the main potential, which is our people. The self-esteem of the Catalans is very high, despite the fact that we have been ignored many times.
Given the current banking landscape and how 11Onze are starting this project, what do you think will be most surprising?
I suppose the speed with which everything has been set up. When things are clear, everything is more agile and that is exactly what has happened with 11Onze. The advantage of this new entirely Catalan project is that, unlike other banking institutions with very heavy structures, 11Onze presents a lighter model from scratch and with very clear management criteria so that we can easily reach wherever we want. And of course, what will also be very surprising is the non-involvement in wars and other contexts that require a certain level of ethics. There is no point in worrying about armed conflicts in Yemen if my bank finances its continuity.
Would you invite other people to join the community?
I have been doing so for a long time. When you believe that a project is good for you and your country, it comes naturally to talk about it with acquaintances or friends. When I explain it, I am often met with fear or mistrust, but perhaps if we opened our minds and really stopped to think for a moment about the purpose of everything we do or what motivates us to continue, we would find that it is really easy to join 11Onze. In fact, it doesn’t take any effort.
What strengths would you highlight about Laura Carlús as an educator?
My honesty and transparency despite finding myself in situations that force you to be a bit more politically correct. I am proud to be politically incorrect when I have to and to be passionate about what I do. I embrace change with all the joy it brings.
INTERVIEW: Dr. Sun Rius. Among the 148 founding investors of 11Onze Banc.
A doctor by profession and delegate of Terrassa’s Chamber of Commerce in Sant Cugat, Rubí and Catellbisbal, Sun Rius joins the 11Onze project as one of the investors and partners of the new Catalan bank. As co-owner of the health and food shop Gerd Rius Dietètica located in Sant Cugat, she criticises the treatment that traditional banking has given to small Catalan entrepreneurs. That is why she firmly believes in the possibility of breaking free from the old banking structures dominated by the Spanish state and thus achieving the emancipation of the country.
In what ways do you think banking has failed Catalan citizens and entrepreneurs?
It has failed on all fronts. All the current banks have been subordinated to the Ibex-35, they have allowed themselves to be dominated by the entities that make it up and that, in turn, exercise their power over our Catalan entities. This, in my view, is letting down the people who have put their trust in their respective banks.
Do you think that right now, in the midst of the pandemic, is a good time to launch a new Catalan bank?
I think it is more important than ever to build up our network of shops and businesses, especially now that the country has been hit hard by the crisis resulting from the pandemic. It is our tool for the future and therefore we need to strengthen it. But to do so, we need investment and we need to apply once again what we do best in Catalonia: work hard and plan for the future.
What motivated you to invest in 11Onze and what do you expect from the bank?
The project proposed by 11Onze seems very interesting to me. 11Onze is a way of collaborating with our country to achieve a certain degree of independence from Spain. I believe that a Catalan bank isolated from Spanish domination will give us the opportunity to work for Catalonia, and create more state structures in order to have more independence. Therefore, I hope for a bank that helps people and supports the efforts of small entrepreneurs geared towards a real country where we all live in a freer way.
As for other entrepreneurs, how do you think they will view the 11Onze project from the outside?
I think they will value very positively the ease of obtaining investment for their company. They will also appreciate the fact that 11Onze does not depend on Spain because this means that it will only look out for the future of Catalonia. Moreover, it will be a digitalised bank adapted to today’s needs, which are basically to have easy access, streamline processes, and make use of an intuitive application that everyone can use. All this makes the bank a very good proposition.
Given your experience as a businesswoman, what are the key values of 11Onze for you?
From my point of view, it is fundamental that it is an ethical bank. This means that it does not invest in weapons of war or favour the exploitation of children or vulnerable women as we find in other entities. It is essential to attain a banking system for which its main values are people and businesses, and with this, move the country forward.
Indeed, one of the peculiarities of 11Onze is that it is a community bank. Do you think that Catalans want to be part of a banking structure like this?
I think so. Until now, Catalans have had their hands tied when it came to being able to project all their energy into Catalonia and their entrepreneurship. I think that this has meant that, on the one hand, new business fabric has not emerged and, on the other hand, it has not allowed us to get as much rentability as a country as we could have. This is a good opportunity to start from scratch.
With all this in mind, would you invite others to join the 11Onze community?
Yes, of course I would. I think it is an innovative project that looks to the future. Moreover, the people behind this new bank are professionals who are convinced about their preferences and who will give enough confidence to Catalans to start giving off this ambition and desire to work on the future of the country.
What strengths would you highlight about Sun Rius as a businesswoman?
Starting from the fact that I am a doctor, Gerd Rius Dietètica had to bring health but also seriousness. When I opened the shop together with my sister, it was clear to us that my contribution would be to advise customers correctly. In spite of this, if I have to highlight any particular strength, it would be enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for work, to give service to all the people who came through the door and to generate trust thanks to a job well done. Perseverance has also been key for us; never giving up and constantly looking for new challenges that prioritise the satisfaction of my clients. I think this has been the key to the shop.
You are a well-known person in Sant Cugat del Vallès and have a very close relationship with the people of Sant Cugat del Vallès. What is the prevailing mood in the neighbourhood regarding the pandemic?
The word that best defines them is “anguish”. They are worried because they don’t know when or how it will end. They see that the labour market is falling, that there are many people who are becoming unemployed and those who have jobs don’t know under what conditions they will continue. In general, we don’t really know much about the future that awaits us, which is why a project like 11Onze can give us a lot of hope right now because of the solutions it offers. Being able to talk face to face, that you don’t encounter so many barriers when it comes to setting up your personal project and that they are committed to the talent of the Catalans, trusting in their chances of success.
INTERVIEW: Xavier Tornos, one of the 148 founding investors of 11Onze, and one of the owners of Instaltop, a carpentry and parquet flooring company located in Montcada i Reixac. After learning about the creation of 11Onze, he decided to join the initiative. For him, the most important thing about the project is the ethics and the reinvestment of money in the country’s economy as a tool to carry out personal and business projects.
Why did you decide to become a promoter of 11Onze?
It was very easy for me. Six months ago, Natàlia Cugueró, the current director of the bank, approached me because we have known each other for 20 years. She explained the 11Onze project to me and I immediately saw that it was a very innovative, revolutionary and necessary entity. I was so excited that it was very easy for me to say yes and participate directly.
What struck you most about this project?
Basically, the innovation that the arrival of an ethical and innovative bank in terms of its structure and organisation represents in the banking sector. I was particularly excited by the group of people behind 11Onze, which for me is a very important factor to take into account.
I also think that it is necessary for the structures of a country to be very close to the end user. That is why I think that 11Onze is something necessary to place the structures, in this case financial structures, close to their users: SMEs or private clients who need financing to carry out their projects.
How do you think users and customers will react to the emergence of a bank like this?
I think they will react well because of all the characteristics that 11Onze has. It will be an ethical bank and this is very important because we already know the type of investments that traditional banks make and what we represent for them, which is basically nothing. 11Onze, in order to have this ethical component, attaches great importance to investing its profits in the growth of the Catalan economy and that of its community. In the long run, however, I do not rule out the possibility that it could grow and open up to other markets in Spain and Europe. I think we can do very well and that other people value this aspect.
One of the most important pillars of the bank is the concept of “community banking”, how would you explain this spirit of 11Onze?
I think that when you create a bank that is very close to the people and that provides services to SMEs or individuals, you end up knowing the idiosyncrasies of our country’s society. For example, knowing what we want, how we want it and when. At the end of the day, the bank’s function is to transfer money from investors or savers to borrowers, and if it knows the market for both, it is easier for this community to grow and help the economy of the people who participate.
Why do you think we need a Catalan bank in our country right now?
Because we need it. Every country needs state structures and one of these structures is the financial one, and this is where banks come in. We need a bank in Catalonia because we need to be able to decide what we do with our money and how we invest it in our own country’s economy. In fact, I believe the management of 11Onze will have to set the conditions for people to benefit from the services provided by the bank, so that the economy can flow and our personal and professional projects can move forward.
And in terms of investors, what do you expect from 11Onze?
To live up to expectations of everything I have seen, been told and verified. The other day I was lucky enough to go to the campus and talk to the first batch of 11Onze agents; I was amazed by the enthusiasm they have, by the coexistence of different generations… A tremendous enthusiasm to start providing service and doing things well.
On the subject of ethics, and I am convinced of this, I hope that they will reinvest the money in social projects that, in general, benefit us all. I think we have had enough of this savage capitalism that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. We have to stop this now and I think we can do it through the bank.
What strengths do you highlight about Xavi Tornos as an entrepreneur?
It is difficult to talk about the good things about oneself. I consider myself to be a very planful entrepreneur and I think this is very important when it comes to growing a company. I also believe that I am very customer-oriented in everything I do. Likewise, I like to know that they are happy, and so do my employees. At the end of the day, they are the ones who are the face of the company, and it is important that they are happy with their work because they will pass it on to the customers.
When people talk to us about money, they say that it is cowardly, that they seek safe investments, that they shy away from uncertainty, that they hide in investments that give a high return. But this is based on simplified assumptions about reality that we should examine before we believe everything we are told. And one of these assumptions is to allow the information circulating about investments to be transparent and reliable
When discussing “how to organise” there is always a certain tendency to drift towards macroeconomics. For example, when discussing the viability of the Catalan state, terms related to “market” and “organisation” are confused. It is said that Catalonia is not viable because its market is not attractive for investment, referring to the size of the territory or the number of inhabitants. Others comment on organisational difficulties, especially the lack of economies of scale in order to have affordable costs.
Others, looking at the debt market, say that Catalan issuance of debt would have no outlet. Let’s take it one step at a time. To begin with, a company’s decision to invest in Catalonia can be assessed on the basis of whether it finds synergies between its corporate value system and those of Catalan culture (organisational aspect). However, it is necessary to first analyse whether the potential markets make it viable. For example, if it is a shopping centre, it will identify whether the locality where it is located has sufficient potential (nothing to do with the inhabitants of Catalonia, but rather the town or city in question). A service company will look to see if it has access to skilled labour and if the geographical location gives it access to other markets.
- Investing with a conscience
These days it has to be observed that those who assess investments in order to advise where those who have money to invest should invest it, do not agree very much either. Suddenly the Spanish bond is rated as a “junk” bond and the risk premium rises. Then statements by a competent authority bring the premium down again and the turbulent waters seem to become calmer. If I had money, I would invest it following other, less fickle advice, but I suppose that rating agencies are made up of people who value the information they receive and must circulate it in the best possible way. In other words, in reality, they are still people who look at the news and interpret it in their own way. Let’s look at the case of Catalonia, we could all read in certain international press that Spain had asked for a bailout. That really makes you laugh. It would be like if I paid my salary into a community of neighbours’ account and the community of neighbours told me that they were bailing me out when I told them to give me money to pay the community fees.
The problem comes when this information that is circulated is perhaps not as reliable as it should be and the opinions end up being certainties that have very serious consequences with respect to the interest to be paid for the money they leave us. Going back to a home example, it would be as if the mortgage bill from one month to the next went from 800 to 1200 euros because my neighbour tells the bank that I won’t be able to pay and he says so because a shopkeeper tells my neighbour that he sold on credit last time I was there and I owe him the bill for the vegetables. At this moment, I am glad that my mortgage is properly signed in front of a notary and registered in the land register! I am also glad that I don’t have to extend my mortgage at a time when the neighbour and the banker are meeting to discuss my dwindling finances.
- More organisation or less market
Perhaps the key is to start talking more about organisational management than about market economics. Because reality surpasses the theory of perfect markets and one of the raisons d’être of the organisation called “State” is precisely to see how markets can be used as an instrument to improve people’s lives. Accepting that markets are NOT perfect spaces of exchange between individuals, but that often there is a lack of supply, a lack of demand, or both.
So, what else there is to say about whether money is scary. We could say that it depends. It depends on who has it, and what that person is like, whether they believe in investment or whether it is simply soulless money seeking to maximise short-term profit, minimise risk and not commit to any particular project.
Many small entrepreneurs use the money they earn to help them to run their self-employment and the employment of the families they depend on, risking their wealth, and even investing when there is no guaranteed funding from the entities that should guarantee it. I do not see this money as fearful, but rather the opposite, it is courageous. But let’s take it one step at a time: many of the opinions we hear from the business world are often made by top managers who do not risk their capital and who are not strictly entrepreneurs. I suppose that entrepreneurs, especially in SMEs, are busy working and trying to find the strength and resources from wherever they can to stay alive and hopeful. Enough of the fearful and cowardly money talk and let’s start focusing on the people who have it in their pockets to see what they are doing. This would lead to a much more fruitful and productive debate. And more authentic.
It concentrates 22% of the most innovative businesses and keeps increasing
“I like the Catalans because they do things,” said M.Rajoy. I do not know whether Catalans do more things than Canadians or the Congolese or if we do things when the rest of the world, presumably, does not. Or if that is the case, why do we do things when nobody else does? What motivates us to do what has not been done yet? And even more importantly, is there any point in doing what needs to be done simply because we are Catalans and we have to do things to deserve praise from this gentleman?
These are questions of a profound philosophical nature but without an obvious answer. Regardless, there are numerous reports and studies from bodies like the Mobile World Congress, l’Agència per la Competitivitat de l’Empresa (ACCIÓ) – Agency for the Competitiveness of the Business – or the Fundación de Estudios de Economia Aplicada (Fedea) – Studies and Applied Economics Foundation – which not only confirm that Catalans do something indeed, but that we do it quite well. So year after year Catalonia tops rankings on business’ innovation.
- Leader in product and business process innovation
The analysis done by ACCIÓ is conclusive; “Catalonia leads in the number of innovative businesses in Spain, with 22% of the total. Catalonia leads in both product and business process innovation.”.
The above figures are not by accident but the result of a conscious and proactive support from both, industry as and the public administration, increasing growth by 10.7% from the previous three years as shown by the study.
Innovation that is always linked to investment in R&D, a key factor because one cannot understand one without the other, and here data also shows an increase of 2.4% in 2019 compared to the previous year, third year of continuous growth and the highest figure in the historical series although below the Spanish State (4.2%) and the European Union (4.5%).
There is no doubt that we, Catalans, have the talent, the scientific knowledge, the industry and the entrepreneurship, but perhaps we lack a State strategy that can successfully coordinate academy and industry. We must be able to transform all this science into specific projects with real commercial applications, and to ensure our human capital, in which we invest so much, does not go abroad in order to be valued. Obviously a Catalan MIT is a long way off but not for lack of talent but financing resources.
- Foreign investment and financing resources
Although it seems that we Catalans are good at innovation, like our American cousins, we cannot say the same in regards to our apprehension to risk, specially when it comes to investing in small to midsize businesses who see innovation and uncertainty not as a side order but as a starter, main course and dessert, also known as startups.
Therefore, how do we complement this apparent shortcoming of our character?
According to the Ministerio de Industria, Comercio y Turismo y la Empresa Nacional de Innovación (ENISA) 36% of small and mid-sized Catalan businesses have received State loans, well above the Spanish average and topping the ranking by a long way.
And here we should highlight that by field of activity small and mid-sized businesses from Technologies of Information and Communications (TIC) gather the majority of this financing. An industrial network that seems to be immune to the pandemic and continues to grow with figures that are the envy of the sector. This is also confirmed by a study by the Gabinet d’Estudis Econòmics de la Cambra de Comerç de Barcelona and the Laboratori de Transferència d’Anàlisi Quantitativa Regional of the Universitat de Barcelona (AQR-LAb) which shows that TIC businesses employed 128.700 people during the third quarter of 2020, an increase of 19.1% when compared to the same period in 2019, and an historical maximum.(*3) Consequently we are talking about a digital field that is fully consolidated and one of the most dynamics in the Catalan economy, therefore becoming key and strategic at a time when the economic and social reactivation of Catalonia is of an imperious need.
On the other hand we have foreign investment where the Cambra de Comerç de Barcelona confirms that Catalonia is also leading on productive investment by asset value. An important factor since, contrary to data issued by other reports and often only useful for sensationalist headlines, it is not based on quarterly or yearly data which is subject to volatility but on the net cumulative investment during a period of more than ten years by which we can identify tendencies.
To conclude, all these reports, studies and analysis confirm what the gentleman said to us, Catalans do things, but they also show that when we talk about innovation it is not enough to do things if these things are not accompanied by a global and common vision supported by the funding resources it deserves.