A commercial banking system was re-established in Hungary in 1987, after four decades of socialist government. This article describes a situation where finance for small and medium enterprises is very hard to access, even though there are a number of schemes for microenterprises and for business start-ups. Several credit guarantee schemes have started in the 1990s, however, which are aimed at meeting the financial needs of SMEs, and establishing their credit relationships with banks.
Subcontracting relationships have great impact on the cost structure, sales and export of Hungarian SMEs, especially in vehicle manufacturing and the electronics industry. Two trends have characterized the Hungarian economy for the past ten years: foreign direct investment streaming into the country, and the spreading of small and medium-sized enterprises. As a rule, customer companies are larger, often foreign-owned, while the smaller supplier firms are usually Hungarian SMEs.This article describes the levels of assistance currently available to assist SMEs entering subcontracting relationships, and suggests that the most efficient programmes assist the relationship itself, through for example information services and supplier networks.