A group of volunteers help entrepreneurs apply for business support – Hakemuskaverit arose from a desire to help
Toni Uimonen, a partner in the Tampere-based software company Silverbucket, together with Janne Kanerva, a partner in another company, has set up a free and volunteer-run application service hakemuskaveri.fi, where you can ask for help in planning applications and verbalising your own ideas. The webpage is in Finnish but you can get help in English by leaving your contact information on the site.
– I said that SME entrepreneurs are in a precarious situation. I asked my networks on LinkedIn if anyone would be interested in helping out and now there are 14 people in our help circle. The help is for free – money is not moving in any direction, Uimonen says.
Those who need help with filling the application can leave contact information on the site. Uimonen passes them on to volunteer helpers.
– We started with Business Finland’s applications and since then, we have also helped with ELY Centres’ funding applications, Uimonen says.
A low threshold in helping out
The need for help comes is many forms. One of the first volunteers were Hannele Yliaho, who does business consulting as her day job.
– This is all about sparring and chatting, a bit like talking to a friend. We assess the need for assistance and whether the application criteria are met. We reflect whether the business is eligible to get support or not and how a new idea would be brought out in the application. We don’t go very deep into the busi-ness operations, Yliaho says.
According to Yliaho, the volunteer circle has helpers from very different backgrounds. Not everyone has experience as a business consultant, but everyone has experience with applications.
Volunteers do not fill out applications on behalf of the entrepreneur but provide support and brainstorm-ing.
– Some may lack of digital ideas and some may have a deficiency in courage. One entrepreneur may wonder if something is being misspelled. One entrepreneur said he doesn’t have the strength to think about an application and have difficulties in starting the process. Then an outsider can verbalize the situation, Yliaho says.
Volunteers are involved because of their desire to help.
– The helper feels good when she can help and share her own know-how, Yliaho says.
elina.hakola (at) yrittajat.fi
The English version is shortened