Sunday. 05.02.2023

These are the finalists for the Migrant Entrepreneur of the Year award

The finalists - including a woman and three men - have been selected from a long list of 80 candidates who have been nominated for this year's competition.

Darja and Jean-François Flogny, in a photo provided by themselves via Suomen Yrittäjät.

There are only a few days left to meet Finland's Migrant Entrepreneur of the Year.

The main organization of Finnish entrepreneurs (Suomen Yrittäjät) announced on Wednesday the finalists of this award, which it delivers every year in collaboration with the mutual insurance company ELO.

The finalists - including a woman and three men - have been selected from a long list of 80 candidates who have been nominated for this year's competition.

The winner of the 2020 Migrant Entrepreneur of the Year contest will be announced on 9 December at the Business Unplugged event. 

The winner will receive a 5,000 euros prize from the insurer ELO.

Ioan Canta - BNA-Flonel

Registered in 2013, BNA-Flonel Oy is a Helsinki-based company which began with domestic cleaning services and then expanded to office cleaning, construction cleaning and removal cleaning. The company also provides labour-only building contracting, protective materials and, nowadays, contractual labour for all of these services around Finland.


According to Suomen Yrittäjät, the company's CEO, Ioan Canta, says he has faced prejudices because of his Romanian background. For this reason, he claims he had to work twice as hard to grow his business and build his clients’ trust.

The company's turnover is 2.2 million euros and the staff is made up of 45 people.

Darja and Jean-François Flogny - Meanwhile in the North

Koli Companies Oy, Koli Active Oy and Meanwhile in The North Oy are three companies established by the Russian-French entrepreneur couple Darja and Jean-François Flogny. They operate in Koli, North Karelia.


According to Suomen Yrittäjät, the Flognys are "truly diverse entrepreneurs" who invest in their local area, and their business range from restaurants to tourism and adventure travel services. Darja Flogny is a member of the board of the Koli Tourism Association and promotes the development of tourism throughout North Karelia.

Over time, the couple has become one of the largest employers in the Koli region, boldly recruiting foreign labor. "The multilingual and international team is what the Flognys think is their trump in entrepreneurship," the business association says.

The Koli Companies' turnover is 800,000 euros and has 8 permanent employees, a number that increases to 30 during the tourist season. Koli Active's turnover is 250,000 euros, with a staff made up of 3 people. The turnover of Meanwhile in The North is 48,000 euros.

Alexander Ivaine - IGL Technologies

Established in 2010, IGL Technologies is a Tampere-based programming company that specializes in delivering digital change.


Grown up in Finland, Alexander Ivaine is a member of Finland's largest immigrant group: people whose families have moved from Russia.

Suome Yrittäjät says Alexander got his product idea when he was a student at the technical university.

"He hated the idea of going out in the sub-zero temperatures to plug his car in to warm it up for the following morning. The natural result was eTolppa, an app-controlled heating socket, and the eParking solution, which save the user electricity and are kind to nature," the entrepreneurs association explains in its website.

IGL Technologies' turnover is 1.2 million euros and the workforce is made up of 10 people.

The jury

The members of the jury are: Ali Giray, chair of the Suomen Yrittäjät migrant entrepreneur network; the 2019 winner Faisa Egge; Marko Hara, a director at the employment pension company Elo; and Petri Salminen, chair of the board of Suomen Yrittäjät.

Last year's winner was Faisa Egge, a woman from Kenya and who managed to setup a successful business in the care sector in Kokkola, in the central Ostrobothnia region.

*All photos included in this article provided by the finalists via Suomen Yrittäjät.

These are the finalists for the Migrant Entrepreneur of the Year award