In a recent blog, I mentioned that I’d joined the Migrant Entrepreneur Network’s management team of Suomen Yrittäjät, the Federation of Finnish Enterprises. Our kick-off day in February was a lively event, at which we came up with several goals and an action plan to pursue them during the year.
As you well know, the business landscape has changed quite drastically since February. The coronavirus has come into our lives and affected absolutely everything we do.
The small businesses that Yrittäjät represents have been hard hit by the virus, and that means migrant entrepreneurs, too. Some examples might be nearby cafes, or language schools, or business trainers (like myself). Very few have not been affected by the coronavirus in some way or another. Migrants are famous for starting restaurants serving the cuisine of their country of origin, but eateries have been affected very badly, since they all had to shut down except for takeaway, and were no longer allowed to serve alcohol.
Businesses affected by the coronavirus have access to plenty of support services around the country, but migrants don’t always have a full set of resources due to language barriers or even just a general lack of knowledge of how things are done and what is available during a crisis such as this in Finland. So our Yrittäjät network has been providing migrant-owned businesses with helpful information on its website.
These two sections have been adapted for coronavirus times:
- A list of free phone numbers around Finland where migrant entrepreneurs can obtain advice in English and other languages
- News in English about the current business environment for those whose Finnish is not yet fluent
Now, during coronavirus time, there is a new page that includes extra sections such as:
- A series of videos in several languages for a quick review of the most important points
- Mental health support
- How to register for unemployment status while keeping a business forced to close due to coronavirus operating in the long term
- Where to find business financial support
I have not provided the full list of what’s available here, because things can change quickly as the government and other parties react to the latest developments. I recommend that you check out the information page to see what is available at the moment.
One positive thing about the situation is that as a team, we haven’t had to change our goals. They are still:
- Improve collaboration with stakeholders.
- Add more information to the Yrittäjät website.
- Raise awareness of Yrittäjät, its services and influence among migrants.
What we have changed is the action plan. We’re not being quite so face-to-face, doing a lot of it online via our website, via email or over the phone. At the beginning of June, we will have the second of our four yearly meetings, and it will be entirely over Microsoft Teams video chat.
These weird times have made it a challenge, but so far the team seems to be running well and we are an enthusiastic, hard-working bunch. Everybody has been making contributions, but I’d like to offer special thanks to Chairman Ali Giray and Network Manager Aicha Minai for leading us.