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Christopher, entrepreneur, construction sector: “I learn something new every day.”

Christopher Mupenda, 30, came to Finland as an eight-year-old. He now runs his own painting and decorating business.

Christopher Mupenda, who runs the Stadin Laatumaalaus Oy company, is on a building site when he answers the phone. In the background, there is hustle and bustle to be heard.
“I’m just on the way to another building site,” he says.

Christopher used to paint as a company employee. He soon realized that the cus-tomers thought he, like his employer, was an entrepreneur.

“That’s where the idea of starting my own business came from.”

Christopher handed in his notice to his employer. Soon he started asking customers he knew personally if they would order work from him in future, which they said they would.

Working as a sole trader, however, did not bring in as much work as he would have liked.

“Maybe they didn’t take me that seriously.” After he set up a limited company, his customers’ attitudes changed.

Now, Christopher’s company is a full-service painting and decorating firm. Stadin Laatumaalaus has another employee working alongside Christopher.

“I use temporary agency workers sometimes when I need to, for example for a larg-er job.”

When he had just started his business, Christopher turned to a civil engineer friend of his for advice.

“I didn’t know anything about invoicing for big contracts, for example.” Now, all the finances have been outsourced to professionals.

Christopher thinks running a business is tough.

“It beats working for someone else though. I couldn’t imagine going back to that.

“Solving challenges is part of my job description. How you face those challenges is down to your attitude. I learn something new every day.”

His customers include both larger construction firms and individuals.

“People are willing to pay for quality.”

Christopher sets his sights on employing more people.

“I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew though. I want to grow little-by-little, cautiously.

“I hope that in a few years I can be employing at least five people so I don’t have to be as hands-on myself. Then I’d be able to concentrate on the finances and running the business.”

Christopher’s family would also like to see him have more free time.

“I’d have more time for my family. At the moment I don’t get to spend that much time at home. It’s one of the downsides of running a business,” Christopher says.

Suomen Yrittäjät, the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, has started a project focusing on immigrant entrepreneurship which is establishing the needs of and challenges faced by entrepreneurs with immigrant backgrounds. You can read more about the project here.

Translation from Finnish: Ian Mac Eochagáin, Maceochi Language Services