June launch of Finnpartnership programme
June launch of Finnpartnership programme
The business partnership programme, Finnpartnership, provides among others advisory services for business activities of Finnish companies in developing countries. The programme is headed by Sari Nikka, who urges companies to contact Finnpartnership experts at the very outset of project planning in developing countries.
The Finnish business partnership programme, Finnpartnership, provides advisory services for business activities of Finnish companies in developing countries and also financial support in the planning, development and implementation phases of a project.
The seminar that launched Finnpartnership was opened by Finland’s minister for foreign trade and development Paula Lehtomäki, in Helsinki’s Wanha Satama exhibition hall. Even during its planning phase, there had been a lot of interest in the Finnpartnership programme, she said.
This year, funding for the programme will be nearly five million euros. The minister added that the amount could still be increased in response to demand.
“Promotion of the private sector has an important and growing role in Finland’s development policies,” she said. “A strong private sector in the developing countries is vital for their sustainable economic growth and the reduction of poverty. In developing countries, the private sector is generally also the productive sector, so the investments of industrial countries and the commercial transfer of technology and skills are very important for its development.”
The minister emphasized that it is not intended to shift responsibility for international development objectives onto companies. Encouraging partnerships in the private sector does not spell a reduction in traditional development cooperation work, which in fact is receiving much more effort than previously. But, with a view to promoting development, it would be an excellent thing if Finnish companies took more interest in the poorest countries. At present a large proportion of investments in developing countries are targeted at just a few, such as China, Brazil, Thailand, India and Malaysia. Finland’s direct investments in Africa have been less than 0.5% of foreign investments. Africa accounted for 2.2% of total Finnish exports and 0.6% of total imports last year.
Companies play a major role in improving the business climate in developing countries
“In almost all developing countries, companies are now being invited to participate in tasks and sectors where they were not welcome before,” Finnfund’s managing director Jaakko Kangasniemi pointed out.
“The business climate for companies in many developing countries used to be unattractive and, as a reflection of this, much of business was corrupt and inefficient. The climate is still not good but in almost all developing countries the situation has improved, international trade has been deregulated and officials are less high-handed. Previously only a small circle benefited from investments, particularly in the poorest countries, because governments didn’t often use tax revenue to finance basic services. Now the benefits are reaching a broader number of people.
“In most developing countries, the keys to development are much more in the hands of companies than before. In relative terms, the role of foreign investments and technology transfer has increased even more. Just a few years ago China was used as an example of homespun development but few countries have depended as much as China on foreign investment and technology transfer for their development in the past few years,” Kangasniemi said.
“Africa is still often seen as a corrupt and bankrupt place, where there is no scope for profitable business. In fact the best places in Africa are now less corrupt and even less bureaucratic than some countries in Europe, to say nothing of other continents. It is still hard to do business in some of the poorest countries but numerous others have made significant improvements in business conditions. Zimbabwe may not be attractive to business but neighbouring Zambia is.”
“One of the jobs of Finnpartnership is to help overcome outdated stereotype views. Its main task is to offer support, money and good advice in the pre-commercial phase to projects that have the genuine possibility of becoming profitable, commercially viable and worth financing,” Kangasniemi said.
The programme is headed by Sari Nikka, who urges companies to contact Finnpartnership experts at the very outset of project planning in developing countries.
For more information, see www.finnpartnership.fi
Sari Nikka, Programme Director, Finnpartnership, tel. +358 9 3484 3304, sari.nikka(at)finnpartnership.fi or Jaakko Kangasniemi, Managing Director, Finnfund,
tel. +358 9 3484 3339, jaakko.kangasniemi(at)finnfund.fi