"I am an immigrant and want to start my own business in Finland".
This is the driving idea for more and more foreigners in Finland. People of the most varied origins -from asylum seekers to immigrants and students- with good ideas and skills for business, but who need guidance on how to deal with the basic procedures, since the business environment is in many cases very different from that of their countries of origin.
What kind of residence permit does an entrepreneur need in Finland? Where should companies register? What is the legal form that best suits each type of business? To answer these types of questions, workshops are held all over Finland in which organizations working in support of foreigners such as Startup Refugees put entrepreneurs in contact with legal experts.
On Wednesday 12 June, one of those events was held in Helsinki, at the cultural center Kultuurikeskus Caisa. Two lawyers from the prestigious firm Autio Associates, Nico Mesiäinen and Julius Autio, attended as speakers the event 'How to Start a company in Finland' and clarified the doubts raised by a group of people who intend to establish their own companies.
The lawyers Julius Autio and Nico Mesiäinen, from Autio Associates. Photo: © Foreigner.fi
Diverse origins and backgrounds
The event lasted about two hours and consisted of a round table where the two lawyers sat together with a group of 15 entrepreneurs.
People from countries as diverse as Thailand, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Cleaning companies, restaurants, beauty establishments and even design and online sale of clothing are some of their projects.
Many of them have residence permits, others are asylum seekers awaiting the decision of the immigration authorities. There are some who already had experience in the business world, one of them -a young woman from Thailand- explained she even owns a company in her country of origin. But for most, this is the first business experience.
César (México) and Marie Paniagua (Venezuela) have developed a project for a fashion company. Photo: © Foreigner.fi
The Autio Associates lawyers' presentation consisted in two parts: first, Nico Mesiäinen reviewed the characteristics of the Finnish business environment. "Finland is often described as a country with many, even too many, rules, but that makes it the most stable and safe place to do business," he explained.
Then, he described one of the aspects that most interest the participants: the types of companies that exist in Finland and their characteristics, from private traders to limited liability companies and the different forms of partnerships.
The main types of companies in Finland and their characteristics. Image: © Autio Associates.
A large number of questions
This matter raises a large number of questions among the attendees. They want to know, especially, about the legal and economic requirements to establish each of the companies, as well as the degree of responsibility that the entrepreneur acquires in each case.
Next, Mesiäinen also addressed the issue of startups, their basic characteristics, their growing importance in the Finnish business landscape and the main risks involved in this model.
The event raised a large number of questions from the attendees. Photo: © Foreigner.fi
After, it is the turn of Julius Autio, who in his part of the presentation addresses issues such as the different types of residence permits needed to do business in Finland and the general requirements for obtaining them.
"Note that residence permits on the basis of self-employment applies to private traders and partnerships; residence permits based on work applies to limited liability companies even if you are the sole shareholder", is one of his basic warnings.
Photo: © Foreigner.fi
The presentation was completed with practical information about the different registries where a business must be registered, about the most suitable type of name to choose for the business, legal advice on how to be an employer, tax requirements, specific licences and insurances, and a review of the costs involved in hiring a employee.
The event ended up with a debate on the issues presented by the lawyers.