Sabi Turkki, Kate Mwasi and Ronja Tuominen. Phot: Sanna Wallenius

Young people testing business ideas in Helsinki’s summer entrepreneurship programmes

Forty enthusiastic young people have started in Helsinki’s summer entrepreneurship programmes, whose practical implementation will be carried out this year by Pks4H and TAT. The young entrepreneurs hope that the summer will bring them work experience and useful networks.

For several years now, the City of Helsinki has been offering young people aged 15–29 the opportunity to experience working life through summer entrepreneurship. This spring, more than a hundred young people applied for the summer entrepreneurship programmes organised by TAT (Economy and Youth) and Pks4H (Helsinki Metropolitan Area 4H), and forty lucky people now have a chance to make their business idea come true. Helsinki supports the participants with a €300 summer entrepreneur voucher.

The selection criteria for summer entrepreneurs emphasised the young people’s business ideas and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. No previous work experience was required.

“We hope that the programmes will lower the threshold for becoming an entrepreneur and this will become a viable alternative to paid employment for young people. Many young people have special expertise that could be productised into profitable and pleasant business,” says Maria Korpisalo, Business Advisor at NewCo Helsinki.

In her work, Korpisalo has noticed that young people often have doubts about the bureaucracy involved in starting a business, such as the choice of company form.

“However, there is no need to worry about these, as help is available for everything. For example, summer entrepreneurship does not require establishing a company, but you can run your business through light entrepreneurship or by using invoicing services.”

Training and mentors for summer entrepreneurs

In the spring, TAT and Pks4H organised training sessions for the selected young people to familiarise them with the business plan, productisation, taxation and various company forms with the help of experts. Both summer entrepreneurship programmes can be used to collect study credits in addition to money.

“The training for the summer entrepreneurship programme provided young people with good basic knowledge, which they can now test in practical work. 90 per cent of the young people who participated in the programme last year achieved sales by employing themselves,” says Joni Nissilä, Development Manager at Pks4H.

TAT Project Coordinator Veera Träskelin points out that the young entrepreneurs are supported by mentors who they can approach in problem situations throughout the summer.

“We want young people to learn to take a solution-oriented approach to the challenges of entrepreneurship, as these are also part of working life. From the feedback we have received in recent years, we have noticed that, after the summer entrepreneur programme, young people have exceptionally positive perceptions of entrepreneurship.”

This year, the City of Helsinki will provide the summer entrepreneurs with sales space free of charge in the Hakaniemi Market Hall, which everyone can use in turn. The young people will celebrate the summer closing event in their own groups in August.

Classmates with their own cookie dough

Sabi Turkki, Kate Mwasi and Ronja Tuominen, all of them 16 years old, are taping a price list to their sales cart in Esplanade Park. For three euros, you get a jar of Doh Doh cookie dough prepared by these three friends in a huge bowl the previous evening.

The 16-year-old upper secondary school students had their business idea early in the year when they were considering what kind of products could be in demand in Finland. They thought of American cookie dough, which is a popular dessert delicacy in New York. Sabi, Ronja and Kate started product development and created their own recipe.

“We wanted to develop a vegan product because its shelf life is better. It contains no egg at all, and the margarine is plant-based, too. The serving dishes are also made of recyclable material,” Turkki says.

The young entrepreneurs spent their math lessons at school making profitability calculations to determine an appropriate price for their product. In 4H’s entrepreneurship training, they learned about marketing and invoicing.

“We mainly advertise Doh Doh on Instagram, where we always tell people where our sales cart is. Customers can pay with MobilePay, and we will also get a payment terminal soon. We haven’t established a company yet: we want to test how the product starts to sell,” Mwasi and Tuominen say.

Interested in entrepreneurial freedom

Artturi Huhtakangas offers anyone a chance to learn the basics of guitar playing through his company, Kitarallaa. A set of six lessons costs 99 euros. The young musician promises a half-hour introductory session free of charge. He markets the lessons through his Instagram channel.

“I wanted to offer guitar lessons at an affordable package price, individually tailored so that students can request to play particular songs. I thought it would be best to start with easy songs with the customers so that they can make the most of the lessons in a short time,” Huhtakangas says.

A 19-year-old young man heard about 4H’s summer entrepreneurship programme from a friend who already has a company. Huhtakangas is also planning to start a proprietorship. He learned about the differences between company forms in an entrepreneurship course.

“I am interested in the freedom of entrepreneurship. I would like to be able to create my own kind of job where I could combine music and marketing. I hope to get a lot of customers and new networks this summer.”

Viola Igbinidu, 17, who was selected for TAT’s summer entrepreneur programme, is also excited about the possibilities of a different summer job. Igbinidu enjoys handicrafts and is currently working on her own jewellery collection, which includes products like key lanyards.

“My target group is nurses, as they use key lanyards for their access cards. I’ve been asking them for their wishes for the colour and style of key lanyards. Depending on the materials, the price could be slightly under or over 30 euros,” the entrepreneur says.

She plans to sell the jewellery at least through her social media channels and in the Hakaniemi Market Hall. Igbinidu is also interested in setting up an online shop.

“Part-time entrepreneurship could be a good way to generate additional income and finance studies. After upper secondary school, I hope to study political science or international politics. I would like to do work that makes a difference.”

NewCo Helsinki provides free business advisory for those interested in entrepreneurship, check out the services at https://newcohelsinki.fi/en/.

News photo: Sabi Turkki, Kate Mwasi and Ronja Tuominen are taking part in summer entrepreneurship programme. (Sanna Wallenius)