Upcoming event in Vaasa seeks to inspire immigrants to start their own business

Promotional image for immigrant entrepreneurship event
3 min

The regional business association Rannikko-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät welcomes immigrants aspiring to be entrepreneurs to an exciting event in Vaasa.

On 6 June, the Alere auditorium in Vaasa will transform into a hub of entrepreneurial energy, as immigrants and experts gather to share their ideas and insights about products and services. With a focus on both information and inspiration, the event presents a valuable opportunity for attendees to exchange contacts, establish vital networks, and cultivate growth both personally and professionally.

Immigrant entrepreneurship brings value to society

The need to support immigrant development is evident. According to Hippi Hovi, CEO of Rannikko-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät, a collaborative effort involving diverse stakeholders has been underway for a considerable period of time.

The primary objectives of this collective endeavor are twofold; first, to encourage students with immigrant backgrounds to choose Vaasa as their long-term home, and second, to pave the way for their future entrepreneurial endeavors.

When talking about business at the national level, Hovi notes that Finland has a significant presence of business owners with foreign backgrounds.

What makes this event different from a regular business event?

We will have short presentations that provide an overview on a national and local level. We also have the perspective from a local immigrant entrepreneur. However, the most exciting thing is the workshops.

Hippi Hovi explains that, after the presentations and a coffee break, the attendees get to discuss their entrepreneurial issues more deeply and share their ideas with each other.

Finding the right information is hard, but not impossible

Riitta Björkenheim, Development Director at Vaasa Region Development Company VASEK, is a speaker at the event. She will provide a local perspective and give her point of view about the future of Vaasa.

The key to developing immigrant entrepreneurship is knowledge. I think that through information and this kind of events, we can all contribute to providing more opportunities for everyone.

Björkenheim emphasizes the international nature of the Vaasa region, which boasts a remarkable diversity of 120 nationalities and nearly 100 different languages.

I would like to believe that it’s a little easier for immigrant entrepreneurs here than elsewhere. If this is the reality, I can only wonder. I think that regardless of these factors, we experience similar problems with attitudes, the difficulty of getting started, finding capital and so on.

What challenges do immigrants face in starting and establishing a businesses in Vaasa?

“To find information from the correct platforms, and maybe with the bureaucracy. But we have various tools to help and speed up matters.”

How does Vaasa’s business life support the development of immigrant companies, from your point of view?

“At VASEK, we have a broad service package at every level, both for start-up companies and existing companies that need help with various matters.”

More could be done to boost immigrant business

Francis Oyeyiola, Talent Coach at Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (VAMK), is another of the event’s speakers. His job involves providing international students with career advice and assistance in matters related to employment.

“The purpose of the event is to bring together local international entrepreneurs and help those who would like to start a business understand the process involved,” Oyeyiola says.

With his presentation, Oyeyiola aims to inspire the attendees to understand the importance of being an entrepreneur and the role it plays in our society.

Are there any specific sectors or industries where immigrant entrepreneurs have been particularly successful in Vaasa? What factors contribute to their success in these areas?

“I would say food delivery, oriental shops and a few restaurants. These areas mentioned are as a result of necessity.”

According to Oyeyiola, the challenges that immigrants face are a lack of support and advice, mentoring, financing and training.

How does Vaasa’s business life support the development of immigrant companies, from your point of view?

“The only support to my understanding is Startia with limited resources. The city should organize more events like this.”

Besides speaking on immigrants’ behalf at the event, Oyeyiola will assist the director of Vaasa Region Enterprise Agency Startia, Tommi Virkamaa, in a workshop about becoming an entrepreneur.

The event and workshops are free of charge and open to everyone.

VAASA 2030 – Development of immigrant entrepreneurship

Time: 6 June at 9 a.m.
Place: Alere auditorium (Wolffintie 31) in Palosaari, Vaasa
Price: The event is free of charge.

Rannikko-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät is a regional organisation that promotes the operating conditions for small and medium-sized companies and entrepreneurs in the Vaasa region. They are hosting the event in collaboration with VAMK University of Applied Sciences, Vaasa Region Development Company VASEK, the City of Vaasa and TE Employment Services.

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