The past seven years have seen many businesses across Europe suffer. Economies struggled to cope with the effects of the euro zone crisis and entrepreneurs – many of them running small to medium sized businesses and start-ups – have been forced to make tough decisions.
Southern Europe in particular has been hit hard, with people in debt-saddled Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal suffering greatly. Across towns and cities, shops have been shut, workers have been laid off and homes repossessed.
In 2008 – the year that Spain's property bubble spectacularly burst, sending the country's economy into an unprecedented crisis – Marta A. Andres set up an events management business in Madrid. Seven years later, after years of austerity and a multi-billion dollar bailout for her country, her business is still standing.
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"We definitely had to adjust [to] the crisis, not only to try and be more competitive but to encourage people to celebrate… as well," she told CNBC.com in a phone interview.
Andres added that she felt, "the situation [in Spain] is getting better,"
The figures seem to back her up. According to the latest figures from the European Commission's Winter Economic Forecast, year-on-year gross domestic product growth for Spain will be 2.3 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016. While unemployment is still incredibly high, it is projected to fall from 26.1 percent in 2013 to 20.7 percent in 2016.
However Spain is not yet out of the woods: the country's gross public debt as a percentage of GDP is predicted to rise to 101.5 percent this year, an increase of more than three percentage points when compared to 2014.
Andres has steered her business, which employs six people, through Spain's crisis by broadening the services it offers and investing more in advertising.
"Now, we're more than [just] a company for marquees and tents. To be more competitive we're offering our clients whole events, [offering to] run the catering, run the music, run the decorations, if they want… [so] they avoid hiring three or four different companies."
The success of SMEs such as Marta's is crucial to European growth. According to the European Commission's Annual Report on European SMEs for 2013/2014, 99 out of every 100 businesses in the EU are SMEs, employing two thirds of workers.