Technology students brought phone booths to open-plan offices
In 2009, Samu Hällfors and Vesa-Matti Marjamäki, students at Tampere University of Technology, realised what modern open-plan offices were missing: phone booths. Founded one year later, Framery Ltd was the world’s first company manufacturing soundproof phone booths.
“We were also a bit lucky to notice the megatrend in multipurpose space thinking, where Finland is very near the top. The debate on open-plan offices was lively, but there were no solutions to the problems. We decided that this would be our opening,” says Hällfors, who is responsible for product development.
Among those believing in the know-how of this company based in Tampere, Finland, is Twitter, which contacted Framery when redesigning its premises as open-plan offices. Soundproof phone booths have now been delivered to Twitter’s offices in New York, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco. Although the bulk of production is exported, the products are still manufactured in Finland.
Finnvera has played a key role in securing financing. Hällfors remembers how difficult it was for students to get a microloan. “We answered that we may look like students, but actually we are entrepreneurs.” Innovation and tenacity were rewarded: Framery is still the market leader in phone booths for offices.
The We Got Courage! tour encourages enterprises to grow
Finnvera cooperates closely with other members of the Team Finland network: Finpro, Tekes and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In late 2014, the cooperation partners toured Finland and talked about their services for the growth and internationalisation of enterprises. The national ‘We Got Courage!’ tour, targeted to growth-oriented SMEs, started in Kuopio on 8 October and toured the whole of Finland during the next few months.
At lunch events arranged in more than ten localities, inspiring and encouraging stories were heard from both national and regional growth enterprises. At these events, companies also had the opportunity to network with other enterprises, to learn about the growth and internationalisation services provided by Team Finland and to test their own ideas at sparring clinics.
Finnvera guarantees financing for Meyer Turku Ltd's shipbuilding contract
In recent years, the difficulties encountered by Finland’s shipyard industry have, from time to time, received much publicity in debates on the economy. However, the debate gained a positive note in 2014 when the State of Finland, through Finnish Industry Investment Ltd, acquired a holding in the Turku shipyard and financing could be arranged for orders.
Finnvera reported that it would contribute to the financing of cruise vessels delivered by the Turku shipyard to TUI Cruises GmbH in 2015–2017 by guaranteeing 50–80 per cent of the pre-delivery financing granted to the shipyard. Alongside the new ship orders, Finnvera’s commitments for the provision of financing for Meyer Turku Ltd will rise at most to about EUR 300 million.
The value of the two orders for cruise vessels, agreed in autumn 2014, is nearly one billion euros, which means a direct employment effect of about 10,000 person-years. The project has considerable impact on society: One ship project gives work to about 300–400 companies, of which around 80 per cent are Finnish. Especially in Southwest Finland, this project creates an enormous amount of positive energy and belief in the future of the marine industry cluster.
Finnvera also guarantees 95 per cent of the post-delivery buyer credits granted for the purchase of the vessels ordered by TUI Cruises GmbH. When the ships ordered both earlier and now are considered together, Finnvera’s commitments on behalf of the shipowner will rise at most to about EUR 1.3 billion. Finnvera’s subsidiary, Finnish Export Credit Ltd, provides financing for the buyer credits arranged by commercial banks.
The project also has value on the international scale by creating an image of Finnish shipbuilders’ professionalism and reliability.
Closer cooperation between Finnvera and Tekes through exchange of experts
The expert exchange programme gave Riitta Leppäniemi, Senior Adviser, Head of Team at Finnvera, and Minna Andersson, Development Manager at Tekes, the opportunity to try what it would be like working in the partner organisation.
During autumn 2013, Leppäniemi worked at Tekes for three months: “I wanted to expand my knowledge of project cooperation between Tekes and Finnvera and, since my work involves financing, I was interested in things like the due diligence process of Tekes.”
The exchange gave Leppäniemi many good practices to take with her back to the home organisation: “I was impressed by the wide scope of Tekes’s operations and the spectrum of projects and programmes. Tekes had good practices, for instance, for managing documents, for documenting project material, and for the systematic distribution of information. This is important, especially as a large number of Finnvera’s employees will retire in the near future.”
Andersson’s exchange took place in early 2014: “I wanted to play a concrete part in planning the new financing programme launched by Finnvera, Tekes and Finpro. I had been considering the exchange programme before, too.”
In particular, Andersson learned new things about Finnvera’s role and financing principles, but her workmates made the greatest impression. “The working atmosphere was pleasant and inspiring. There was a fair amount of buzz about the place since other cooperation experiments were also in progress simultaneously and we had lively discussions about them among colleagues.”
Leppäniemi thinks that finance managers working with growing and internationalising enterprises would benefit the most from the programme. Andersson also recommends the exchange programme for experts working at the customer interface.
Both of them hope for even closer cooperation in the future. “The development of cooperation in project financing would raise the professional competence of both Finnvera and Tekes employees and would provide increasingly comprehensive services for enterprises,” Leppäniemi says.
Increasing awareness of export financing among entrepreneurs
Internationalisation and measures to increase exports are important for Finland’s economic growth. Through the SME Export Finance Programme, Finnvera provides information and practical tools for the financing solutions of export trade. “SMEs are not always aware what financing and payment solutions exist for exports and internationalisation. Correctly selected solutions facilitate negotiations and may be an important factor in winning competitive bidding. The enterprises that have participated in our programme have said that the greatest benefits came from new ideas about financing solutions for concrete export projects,” says Erno Ihto, Senior Adviser at Finnvera.
The programme is implemented in cooperation with banks operating in Finland. Together with a bank selected by the enterprise, Finnvera holds a one-day Export Finance Workshop for each participating enterprise. The emphasis of the workshop is on real export transactions and the solutions for financing them. The programme also includes topical seminars around the same theme.
Enterprises are selected for the programme on the basis of applications. The criteria are that the enterprise’s business is profitable, the first export transactions have already been made, and the enterprise wants to grow by increasing exports. Over 120 SMEs have already participated in this free-of-charge programme.
Milk for five o'clock tea
Amitec Ltd is a technology company specialised in materials handling, process piping and maintenance. Half of the company’s turnover comes from outside Finland. Strong export markets include Norway and the UK, but the company’s equipment has been delivered as far as Tahiti.
Finnvera has provided financing, for instance, for the company’s exports to Arla Foods in the UK.
“Without the security given by Finnvera, we would not have struck the deal. The contract price was as high as our annual turnover. Our own resources were not sufficient, since we constantly have other projects in progress, too. Finnvera has also managed our other financing issues, for example in connection with our recent property deal,” says Raine Kuusisto, Managing Director of Amitec.
Amitec is now involved in helping Brits to get milk for their five o’clock tea. What next?
“We want to grow at a moderate pace. As a family business, we are not hasty; for us, a quarter lasts 25 years. We want to make sure that our business is profitable in the future as well,” Raine Kuusisto stresses.
Finnvera participated in financial arrangements for Wärtsilä's power plant projects
Finnvera guaranteed buyer credits that were used to finance Wärtsilä’s deliveries for two gas-fired power plants, with a combined power of 339 MW, in Indonesia. The total value of the credits guaranteed is EUR 160 million. The beneficiary of the guarantee is Standard Chartered Bank, which arranged the credits for PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (Persero), a power company owned by the State of Indonesia. The credits are financed by Finnvera’s subsidiary, Finnish Export Credit.
In the export trade of capital goods, competition between equipment suppliers is currently very stiff. For instance, besides Wärtsilä, 30 other companies submitted tenders for the 184 MW Arun power plant. Five commercial tenders were approved at the final stage, in practice from all the main competitors. Long-term export credit financing was the customer’s absolute requirement in the competitive bidding. This means that without Finnvera’s participation, Wärtsilä would not even have been able to submit a tender.
“PLN assessed the buyer credit and power plant tenders together, and Finnvera’s possibility to offer Finnish Export Credit’s long-term export credit financing and Finnvera’s quick and focused operations were central factors that led the client to select our power plant engines,” says Vice President Anu Hämäläinen of Wärtsilä.
Wärtsilä’s power plant deliveries to Indonesia are a good example of a deal where the guarantee and export credit solution offered from Finland enabled a long-term buyer credit at a competitive price and helped the exporter to win the deal.
Finnvera helped sisters to embark on a career in baking
Three years ago, Marianne and Henriikka Huusko, sisters from Kuhmo, bought an enterprise that their great-grandmother had established back in 1968. The enterprise, Kaesan Kotileipomo Oy in Kuhmo, makes traditional breads and baked goods originating in the region of Kainuu.
Finnvera has supported the entrepreneur sisters since 2011. “Finnvera was an important building block when we were putting together the financing package to purchase the enterprise,” the sisters reminisce. Just before the Christmas season, Kaesan Kotileipomo moved to new premises and made large investments in development and equipment. “It was also much easier to obtain other financing for the investments made with the help of Finnvera’s financing decision. In 2014 alone, we allocated about one million euros to the development of our business,” Henriikka and Marianne Huusko calculate.
The bakery owners want to invest in the development of their own shop because its sales already account for about one third of the bakery’s total turnover, which in 2014 was about 1.3 million euros. The young entrepreneurs are eager to build their enterprise into a nationwide and modern bakery leaning on traditional products.
A summer job at Finnvera gave assurance of career selection
Once again in 2014, Finnvera participated in the ‘Responsible Summer Job’ campaign intended to ensure that young people will have enough high-quality summer jobs also in the future.
Elisa Sipponen, a student of financial management at the School of Business at Lappeenranta University of Technology, spent the summer of 2014 working in Finnvera’s SME Financing. “I applied for the first job in my field at Finnvera because I wanted to see how the things I had learned could be applied in practice. I’m interested in the financing sector and business ventures, and I knew that Finnvera is a well-known and reliable employer in the financing sector.
The best part of the summer job was that I had the opportunity to learn about a wide range of tasks in SME financing, and I felt that I acquired a deeper understanding of my economics studies. The tasks that I was given were challenging and involved responsibility, giving me the chance to develop my own skills.
My summer job at Finnvera was a highly positive experience. I gained a comprehensive view of the organisation’s practical operations and assurance that my field of study is the right one for me. I learned much about various tasks in a financial institution and what types of jobs I could aim for in the future.
I feel that I got very much out of my summer job. Studying is much more rewarding when I’m able to weigh simultaneously how the skills learned can be applied in practice.”
Econet – effective solutions for a cleaner environment
The Econet Group is a multi-service company operating in the water and environmental technology sector. Since its foundation, Econet has continuously developed its services and know-how in the environmental and wastewater sectors for the benefit of its customers. Responsibility, environment-friendly operations and clean water are international megatrends that offer Econet versatile opportunities for growth.
Econet is determined in its effort to become an international player especially in the developing markets where demand for water infrastructure is on the rise. Internationalisation has required sustained and active collection of market knowledge and the creation of partnership networks. Finnvera has played an important role in contract guarantees, which has enabled Econet to participate in competitive bidding for contracts of considerable value. Finnvera has been an important cooperation partner in water-sector projects carried out, for instance, in Vietnam and previously also in China.