This study examines the impact of German public start-up assistance programmes administered by the Deutsche Ausgleichsbank (DtA) on the performance of young firms. The empirical analysis is based on firms from the ZEW Entrepreneurship Study that either received start-up loans in one or more DtA schemes or did not receive any funding from the DtA at all. The paper applies a non-parametric matching approach often applied by labour market economists. The interesting success measure is the average annual employment growth rate over a six year period and the resulting causal effect is the difference of this measure between the group of subsidized firms and the selected control group firms that did not receive any DtA start-up loans. The empirical analysis shows that DtA start-up loans significantly improve the average employment growth rate.