Finland’s Entrepreneur Day – September 5
1. It all started in 1997
The local entrepreneur organisation in Helsinki, Finland began discussing what could be done to inspire entrepreneurs and the business community in 1995 ad 1996 in the wake of Finland’s economic downturn earlier in the decade, and how society’s perception of the importance of entrepreneurship could be improved. Three areas were identified as of key importance:
– Launching an annual national entrepreneur day
– Making the day a feature of the annual official calendar
– Erecting an entrepreneur monument in a central location in Helsinki.
The first Entrepreneur Day was held on September 5, 1997, and was addressed by some highly respected speakers in the shape of:
– The Prime Minister, representing the government
– The chairmen of various entrepreneur and business associations, all of whom were also business leaders in their own right.
The following were invited as guests of honour:
– Key members of entrepreneur organisations
– High-ranking civil servants and municipal decision-makers
– Key figures in the business community, and
– Individual businessmen and businesswomen that had been prominent in promoting the interests of entrepreneurs.
The project and its activities succeeded in winning the solid support of government and political leaders from the very start.
2. Establishing September 5 as Finland’s official Entrepreneur Day, between 1998 and 2001
Those involved in launching Finland’s Entrepreneur Day continued to play a central role in organising the event annually in the years that followed. A lot of effort was put into providing a quality programme on the day, with speakers including respected business executives and senior representatives of the business community and government, together with a minister closely linked to business affairs.
The Day succeeded in attracting a lot of media attention from the start, and this has continued to grow.
An Entrepreneur Committee was established in 1997 made up of key figures from the business community. The Committee’s membership grew steadily, reaching 50 by 2004.
3. The establishment of the Entrepreneur Day Foundation in 2002
The role of the Entrepreneur Day Foundation (originally known as the Entrepreneur Monument Foundation) is to promote business activities and entrepreneurship in society generally.
All of Finland’s national entrepreneur organisations were involved in establishing the Foundation, which is supported by the Entrepreneur Committee.
The responsibility of organising the Entrepreneur Day was also transferred to the Foundation.
4. The Entrepreneur Monument project, 2002-2010
The first major task taken on by the Foundation was to commission an Entrepreneur Monument. The City of Helsinki gave its support to the initiative and granted a prime location for the monument in the centre of the city.
The Foundation began to collect contributions from businessmen, companies, and entrepreneurial organisations around the company for the monument, which was commissioned and erected without any state or public financial support.
The Entrepreneur Monument was unveiled at a major event in Helsinki on September 5, 2006 under the patronage of Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. A documentary on the monument project was produced and broadcast on national television in autumn 2007.
Entrepreneur Day, September 5 was officially approved for the calendar by the Almanac Office at University of Helsinki in 2008, and printed in the 2010 calendars.
The Entrepreneur Day Foundation today
Since 2004, the Entrepreneur Foundation has concentrated on extending the scope of Entrepreneur Day both nationally and locally.
Tens of local events were held in 2004, since when the number of events has grown steadily and the range of activities has grown as well.
Today, Finland celebrates Entrepreneur Day in numerous ways up and down the country:
– The main event in Helsinki is broadcasted via the Internet to local events around the country
– Businesses have open day events at their locations
– Entrepreneur fairs are held locally
– Businesses and entrepreneur organisations promote special campaigns in the national and local media
– Presentations of entrepreneur activities and related activities are held at colleges and schools
-Teachers and students are invited to visit companies
– Business publications are encouraged to feature stories on entrepreneurship and starting and running businesses on or around September 5
– Events have begun to be arranged over a number of days around September 5, and Entrepreneur Day is now developing into an Entrepreneur Week
– Arranging seminars.
Finland’s Entrepreneur Day cooperation network has expanded steadily, and consists of roughly 20 members today, including (besides entrepreneur organizations) public officers, ministries and other players like teacher unions.