A survey conducted by the main organization of Finnish Enterprises, Suomen Yrittäjät, asked immigrant entrepreneurs on the effects of coronavirus on their businesses in late March and early April.
A total of 113 entrepreneurs responded to the survey. There are about 10,000 entrepreneurs in Finland with foreign origin, which means the survey reached over one percent of them.
According to results, 92% of respondents thought coronavirus has made operating as an entrepreneur more difficult. 67% experienced a drop in sales and 29% had to make use of entrepreneur’s unemployment benefit or intended to do so. 20% could not believe their businesses would make it through the crisis.
When the results are compared with the Finnish-language entrepreneur survey Yrittäjägallup, Covid-19 has hit immigrant entrepreneurs even harder than native Finns.
Aicha Manai, network manager at Suomen Yrittäjät, said that “coronavirus has been difficult for almost all entrepreneurs, but especially for those who do not speak Finnish or Swedish fluently and work in sectors hit particularly hard by the crisis.”
Manai added that a lack of language skills makes filling out subsidy applications, accessing information and advice services more difficult.
3% feel better
One interesting result is that 38% of immigrant entrepreneurs said they felt reasonably well, while another 38% said they felt very bad. Only 3% said they were feeling better than ever.
Manai says that “it has been considerably harder for entrepreneurs who are far from their native countries to meet family members or, for example, bring their spouses or children to Finland, which is naturally reflected in how these entrepreneurs are coping mentally.”
In terms of sales, 34% of immigrant entrepreneurs said sales had halved, 21% said sales had dropped by 10–30% and 20% of immigrant entrepreneurs said sales had dropped by 30–50%.
Sales had dried up completely for 20% of respondents. A mere 7% believed their turnover would increase in the next two weeks.
Despite the sharp drop in sales, over half of immigrant entrepreneurs with employees had not laid them off or dismissed them. 62% had not talked to their banks, for example about loans.
30,000 people employed
“Over 30,000 people work in companies run by immigrant entrepreneurs. It’s important to ensure that these people continue to have a job in future and that companies avoid a wave of liquidations. Payment arrangements, direct supports and development funding are part of a larger whole that will allow us to rebuild after coronavirus," said Manai.
This expert also recommended that, when dealing with immigrant entrepreneurs, "allowances must be made for subsidy applicants’ language skills."
"Weak Finnish skills should not be a barrier to developing a business. It’s great to see so many organizations investing in multilingual communication and plain language. It doesn’t make anyone poorer – instead, it boosts many entrepreneurs’ businesses’ chances of survival,” Manai added.