“We need you”
This week we had our first ever Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award Ceremony at the national level. It was a special and historical event organized in Helsinki.
The winner of the competition was Faisa Egge from Kokkola. Her company, Amanihoiva Kotihoito Oy, offers home care services to seniors and personal assistance to the disabled in their own homes.
There are many reasons we want to celebrate immigrant entrepreneurship.
Firstly, we want to send a clear message to immigrant entrepreneurs: we need you. We need more and more immigrant entrepreneurs in Finland to develop this country and strengthen its economic and social foundation for the future.
Secondly, we have so much to learn from immigrant entrepreneurs, their skills and, especially, their courage. Entrepreneurship is never easy. When you are from a different society and culture, often without understanding our challenging language and complex regulations, it is even more difficult.
Thirdly, we want to emphasize the positive role of immigrant entrepreneurs in Finnish society and the economy.
Fourthly, I hope finalists the of the Immigrant Enterpreneur of the Year competition become role models in entrepreneurship for many people, both for young immigrants as well as others.
We have approximately 10,000 immigrant entrepreneurs. Their businesses have about 30,000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately 3.5 billion euros. These are impressive figures. These businesses have huge potential, both for employment and growth.
It is worth remembering that many of today’s well-known Finnish companies were founded by immigrants. For example, Fazer was established by Karl Fazer, son of an immigrant entrepreneur, in 1891. Stora Enso was founded by Hans Gutzeit, an immigrant entrepreneur, in 1872. Finlayson’s founder James Finlayson came to Finland to start his business in 1820. There are many other similar stories.
It would be just foolish to underestimate the role of immigrants in business and entrepreneurship.
We just celebrated this country’s 102nd Independence Day. It is important to note that entrepreneurship is one cornerstone of a free and democratic society. But it is not just a cornerstone: it is also a consequence of freedom. When there is freedom, ideas can flourish, and great businesses can evolve.