20.2.2020 14:59

Active member of immigrant network encourages others to get involved: “many entrepreneurs feel lonely”

The immigrant network in the region of South Savo provides an example of how entrepreneurs with roots elsewhere can take advantage of a support network.

The immigrant entrepreneur network in Mikkeli has successfully helped several entrepreneurs who have moved from abroad to the area.

Marko Tanninen, one of the organizers, got involved in early 2019. Since then, activities have started growing. The network, which started off as a project, has become permanent. It has drawn support from a Facebook group for immigrant entrepreneurs.

“It’s got off to a good start. We’ve increased cooperation between businesses. The biggest help for many people has been with problems they face because of the language barrier and tips and support for running a business.”

According to Tanninen, immigrant entrepreneurs’ biggest problems have to do with official bureaucracy.

 “Dealing with the authorities can be difficult when you don’t speak Finnish at all and have poor English. This is where the immigrant network can help.”

“Networks provide the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes”

The South Savo immigrant entrepreneur network has members from a wide range of sectors. According to Tanninen, they include automation, film, 3D computer graphics, catering and healthcare.

“Women are also involved. There were two women at the last meeting,” he says.

Tanninen’s mother is Finnish and his father is Canadian. He has been the owner of Suomiconnect Oy in Finland since 2018. Its main premises are in Otava, Mikkeli.

“My company is in the automation business. We provide automation and IT services, mostly to industrial clients, but we also sell IoT systems on the consumer side. The company started off well and there’s been more work than people to do it.”

Tanninen recommends immigrant entrepreneurs to join their local networks if possible.

“Networks provide the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes. You don’t need to make those same mistakes yourself. You also get social support. Many entrepreneurs with a foreign background feel lonely, and belonging to a network of immigrant entrepreneurs provides the social support they need.”

How to get involved

The number of immigrant entrepreneurs is increasing in Finland, including outside the big cities.

Aicha Manai, Network Manager at Suomen Yrittäjät, says, “This is why it’s important for immigrants to find each other, to be able to share their ideas and to expand their network. Peer support and networks are important for all entrepreneurs, but especially for those new to Finland’s business environment and culture. Every network sets and determines its goals itself, but generally speaking, the purpose of a network is to support people as they run their businesses and develop the services of Suomen Yrittäjät, for example. The Suomen Yrittäjät immigrant entrepreneur network also takes a stand on immigration matters and contributes to the public debate in general.” 

You can set up an immigrant entrepreneur network by contacting your regional association. 

You can join the South Savo network by contacting Riitta Lappi, riitta.lappi@mikseimikkeli.fi . 

You can learn more about the Suomen Yrittäjät immigrant entrepreneur network through Ali Giray, ali.giray@arife.fi and Aicha Manai, aicha.manai@yrittajat.fi .

Photo: Getty Images

Pauli Reinikainen

pauli.reinikainen (at) yrittajat.fi