Migrant entrepreneurship on the increase
Suomeksi – In English
Employment and entrepreneurship services which are aimed at people with migrant backgrounds were discussed in a ratkaisuriihi workshop organised by EntreFox and collaborators. The aim of the workshop was to co-create and develop services in discussions between the users, producers, and funders of the services together with researchers.
In his presentation entrepreneur Reggie Rusan told a fairly typical story of an entrepreneur with a foreign background in Finland. Despite 30 years of work experience (e.g. Kone, Accenture) Rusan did not find a job after he moved to Finland, and decided to start his own business, SimpleTec Solutions. A report published by ETLA (Finnish Institute of the Finnish Economy) in 2018 has pointed out that for many foreign-born people entrepreneurship is the only option to employment. Entrepreneurship of people with foreign backgrounds in on the increase and for instance 40 per cent of people with Turkish backgrounds are entrepreneurs.
In his presentation, Rusan thanked Suomen Yrittäjät for supporting his enterprise. In the ratkaisuriihi discussions it was noted that several organisations have offered their services to foreign-born entrepreneurs. There is already a considerable amount of information and services in English. Rusan was grateful for starttiraha, even though it is so short that many business ideas cannot be made profitable in the time available, even if the business ideas themselves are viable. So, services exist but they are rather scattered and not easy to find. This has already been stated in a report published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in 2015. This report suggested that Enterprise Finland services should be marketed to foreign-born entrepreneurs.
In the same report it was noted that entrepreneurs with foreign backgrounds need more collaboration and networks with entrepreneurs with Finnish backgrounds. Reggie Rusan also said that finding customers is the biggest challenge and that networking is crucial.
In conclusion, it can be said that the need to network and communicate more was an issue which was highlighted in the ratkaisuriihi workshop. For instance, the service providers should also network to be able to guide potential customers to discover existing services. One important matter is how entrepreneurs with Finnish backgrounds could make their existing networks more inclusive to foreign-born entrepreneurs. One issue which cropped up in the discussions was the need to make the image of entrepreneurs more diverse. Many experience that the stereotype of an entrepreneur is a young man with a Finnish background in a start-up business. A more diverse image of entrepreneurship, including e.g. more funding opportunities for non-IT sector businesses, would benefit many entrepreneurs with Finnish backgrounds who do not match the stereotype for example because of their age.
Ratkaisuriihi workshop was organised on 24 September 2019 by EntreFox, Centre of Expertise in Immigrant Integration at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, WeAll Reseach Consortium, and Women to Work Project (City of Helsinki, TYP palvelut) in the Think Corner of the University of Helsinki. In collaboration also Suomen Yrittäjät and NewCo Helsinki.
Tytti Steel, 17.10.2019
Thanks to students of Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki who participated in the workshop and documented the discussions in their notes.
Satu Aaltonen, Jarna Heinonen & Elina Valtonen (2015): Maahanmuuttajayrittäjien palvelutarpeet ja yrittäjyyden edistäminen. Työ- ja elinkeinoministeriön julkaisuja, Työ ja yrittäjyys 23.
Paolo Fornaro (2018): Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Finland. Etla Report No 83.