Growth with the help of international talents and networks

As a small and open economy, Finland is very dependent on exports. That is why it would be very useful for us to strengthen the growth and internationalization of companies with the help of international talents and networks. This is one of the goals of Twinkle2015 in Tampere on 7th and 8th December 2015. The FinnCham network members can also share this goal.

Finland’s small and medium-sized-enterprises (SMEs) represent only 13 percent of all Finnish exports. This figure shows that there is a lot of potential for growth through internationalization in Finnish SMEs. Programs led by Chambers of Commerce like Kasvu Open and KasvuCamp (GrowthCamp) are good examples of programs, which aim at companies’ growth and internationalization through networking, mentoring and competition.

Networks of people and companies - a key to new markets

International talents would give us new ideas and methods to do things differently. Interaction between Finnish and international talents would generate new business ideas and create new networks between countries and enterprises. In some cultures, networks and language skills play a major role in doing business. Companies would also benefit from the good cultural knowledge of international talents. From experience, we know that networks are extremely important in many Asian and Arabic countries.

Networks may also help enterprises to penetrate into new markets. Network contacts, knowledge and experience can be sources to expanding existing networks and finding new partners and customers. Enterprises should pay a lot of attention to the fact which kinds of networks they have. In some cases, a firm can invest considerable effort in the relationship but gets little in turn. Analyzing and the relationships and managing them is essential to gain advantage from networks.

International talents are ambassadors of their home countries. They convey experiences, expertise and information from country to country. At the same time, they increase their co-workers knowledge of business opportunities and business environments of the country in which they live and from which they come from. This will lead to growing interest between businesses and increase investment activities.

Aging society provides jobs for skilled people

International talents coming from countries, where entrepreneurship is very popular or just a tradition, are eager to establish their own businesses. They usually also have special skills in specific business sectors, which can be a good reason to start a company. International talents can also have specialized artisanship and work as abstract artists, gourmet caterers etc. Manual skills are highly appreciated. In the future, there will be lack of these people. It is also good to remember that over 75 percent of the most successful starts-ups in the US at this time have at least one member of the top management from a foreign country.

The most common reasons for the migration to Finland are family, studies, work, and most of expats who live permanently in Finland come from the EU countries. As it is expected that in Finland only the age group of 65-years old and older is growing in the future. In a situation of steady population decline and aggravating demographic imbalances, immigrants would figure as possible contributors to reversing these developments. A shortage of skilled workers will be one of our greatest future economic challenges although it might be hard to believe today when Finland is experiencing severe economic crisis.

Interaction and commitment - important parts of integration

International talents who have expertise in a certain business area, who are committed to their work and who have a positive attitude towards the society have excellent chances to integrate into the host society. Language skills and active participation in local activities may also help international talents to adapt to new working and living environments as well as find great jobs and partners. For example The Finnish Canadian Business Club, a member of the FinnCham network, has invited Canadian students living in Finland to participate in the Club’s events and encouraged them to write about their skills and experiences in Finland. Events like Twinkle also create platforms where international talents and enterprises have the possibility to meet each other and interact in Finland.

Anne Hatanpää
The writer is the Liaison Manager of the Finland Chamber of Commerce of Finland.