Entrepreneurship seminar at Seinäjoki

What is entrepreneurship? How to find entrepreneurs and companies? How to get a job? How to become an entrepreneur? How could local entrepreneurs benefit from foreign degree students?

These and several other questions were answered at an Entrepreneurship seminar at Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences on April 25th. This seminar was arranged for International Business degree and double degree students by KILKAS-project.

The seminar was opened by Mr Pertti Kinnunen, CEO at South Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce. He told about the Chambers of Commerce in Finland and gave examples how members can make better business with help from the South Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce. He also presented the South Ostrobothnia business life: the main clusters and both the biggest companies and companies, which are planning to go international.

Seinäjoki Entrepreneurship Society, SeiES, was shortly presented by three key persons: president Ms. Nora Yliviikari, vice president Mr. Jan Porema and treasurer Ms. Pauliina Mäntylä. SeiES has recently been established and its goal is to become a place where students and other young people can get contacts and other help when developing a business idea of their own.

Account Manager Ms. Annina Walsh from BSTR Luova Konttori presented the key values of the company (passion, community spirit, professional pride, client driven approach). She also gave advice how to get a job in Finland / South Ostrobothnia area and she underlined the importance of language skills, especially Finnish. She also pointed out how local companies could benefit from hiring foreign students: the companies get a fresh, international perspective and both cultural and business knowledge. Having an international trainee also improves personnel´s language skills and challenges the local way of thinking.

Mr. Rathan Kumar and CEO Mr. Jouni Aura gave an energetic presentation of a very innovative company and product: LivelyAir and bottled air. They showed the students that nothing is impossible if you yourself believe in your idea and are willing to work for your product/company. When the audience heard that this company really sells bottled air, they all asked “WHAT?!” and after the presentation they all asked themselves, why not. Since this is a quite new company, we look forward to seeing how they make their way to success.

Executive Manager, Mr. Marko Kivelä from Selmu ry/Provinssirock gave an interesting presentation of Selmu and Provinssirock. He told for example that all workers at Selmu have started as volunteers before getting a permanent job there. Working as a volunteer for Selmu or Provinssirock is a good way to get contacts, practice Finnish language and it is a perfect hobby for students who are interested in music business. They have even tasks where you don’t have to speak Finnish so everyone can volunteer.

The last presentation was by Ms. Satu Alapiha (Senior Advisor, Enterprise Europe Network) and Mr. Antti Savola (Procurement & StartUp Specialist) who represent INTO Seinäjoki.  INTO Seinäjoki is a development company with lots of different services for companies. It helps both new and old entrepreneurs by offering business developing services, relocating services, business idea consultancy etc. The most interesting thing for international students is their internationalization services: international partner search and help with starting export. They also have knowledge of e.g. expanding companies of South Ostrobothnia, so if a student is interested in finding a trainee place e.g. in a furniture company which wants to start exporting to Germany, this is the place to contact.

The students were pleased with the seminar: they got lots of interesting and useful information. All these companies and organisations are potential training places or they could offer thesis topics or study projects. Contacts with local companies are essential and both Chamber of Commerce and INTO Seinäjoki can provide students with lots of information on local businesses. A seminar like this should be arranged more often, meeting local entrepreneurs is important for both building competence and building student’s professional identity.

Päivi Uitti
Senior Lecturer and study counselor at Seinäjoki University of applied sciences