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Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs and seek growth

“Those of us living in the capital region are used to the possibility of a familiar face running a business being from the other side of the world. Because our population is ageing, we need entrepreneurs and workers from elsewhere to keep our welfare state going. Integration and language learning for entrepreneurs should be made easier and we should offer knowledge and support to people starting their own businesses,” says Mari Kokko, Vice President Field Operations at Suomen Yrittäjät.

At the EnterpriseVantaa agency, 40% of users of advisory services have an immigrant background and 37% of new businesses are started by people with an immigrant background. At the EnterpriseEspoo agency, one in three appointments was with a visitor with an immigrant background. 

Flexibility is needed to allow immigrants to become part of business life and Finnish society faster. The practice of “labour availability consideration”, whereby existing labour resources in Finland must be considered before hiring from abroad, should be scrapped. That is the position taken by Suomen Yrittäjät in its “Kasva Suomi” (“grow Finland”) targeted programme for the coming parliamentary term.  

The topic was discussed during Suomen Yrittäjät’s Kasva Suomi tour round the capital region on Thursday. Suomen Yrittäjät has its own network for immigrant entrepreneurs.  

Survey sheds light on immigrant entrepreneurs: desire to grow, international operations and job creation 

Suomen Yrittäjät surveyed immigrant entrepreneurs about their everyday lives at the end of 2018. Ninety entrepreneurs from the capital region, Finland Proper (southwest Finland) and Pirkanmaa responded. More than half the respondents were from the capital region.  

The survey showed that entrepreneurs with an immigrant background have a greater appetite for growth and hiring than Finnish-born ones. They also have more international trade than Finnish-born entrepreneurs.  

“The respondents did feel they had received quite good assistance and support for starting a business in Finland, but unfortunately almost 30% of them found running a business in Finland extremely difficult,” Kokko says.   

Registering a new business and opening a bank account were considered easy. Things such as dealing with the tax authority and receiving funding were considered difficult. For 46% of respondents, receiving correct information was found to be difficult.   

Making the residence permit process smoother 

The current application process for an entrepreneur's residence permit is complicated and some of the application requirements may be impossible to fulfil.  

“These requirements should be examined critically with a view to establishing whether all the permit conditions are essential when applying for one’s first permit. The lengthy permit processes delay an entrepreneur’s opportunities for starting to run a business and slow down integration into Finnish society,” Kokko says.  

Asylum seekers’ right to work must be expanded 

The right of asylum seekers’ to work needs to be expanded to start integration as early as the asylum application process.  

“No one benefits from asylum seekers becoming frustrated with years of waiting. Immigrants would find it particularly important to be able to combine their integration education with part-time work or business ownership, as for many of them, their life situation demands it,” Kokko says.  

Labour availability consideration is unnecessary 

Suomen Yrittäjät thinks recruitment should not be made more difficult through the labour availability consideration practice.  

“Even if the original idea was fighting the black economy and protecting workers’ rights, labour availability consideration has in practice become a barrier to hiring competent, willing employees,” Kokko says. 

» Link to survey

 

Further information: 

Mari Kokko, Vice President Field Operations, Suomen Yrittäjät, tel. 040 521 2124