Transforming Business In Scandinavia And The Baltic States…
Starting up in Europe as an entrepreneur from Africa can be exciting – however, one of the first challenges on the way might be to choose where to begin making an impact! Whereas Germany has much to offer for founders, it might be worth exploring all the options in the EU. This article will provide a brief overview of findings from the Europe Startup and Entrepreneur Visa Index combined with a few extra remarks. Whereas there are a lot of exciting destinations, this article will look at the top three countries for entrepreneurs from abroad in Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Ready?
Where To Begin? – The Visa And Mobility Question…
For founders mobility is indispensable. Whether in old or recent times, starting from the Mongol Empire to today, mobility has been at the heart of international trade and business. Only, when people (i.e. for labour purposes or as potential consumers), goods and services can effectively be mobilized – may this be physically or digitally – can it be assured that the economy, knowledge exchanges and societies will continue to thrive and be dynamic. Whether it is for networking purposes prior to starting up a business or for sealing business deals, mobility is not only important in the mid- and long-term, but also in the short-term and yet, renegotiating entry to certain countries can be a tough business!
The following findings from the Europe Startup and Entrepreneur Visa Index, which were gathered by NanoGlobals – which describes itself as “an expert-led platform that provides the information necessary for tech companies and startups to find and leverage remote workforces and multinational business strategies”, may provide some hints on where to settle as a business in Scandinavia and the Baltic States – at least, if one were to make a final decision based on the ease of applying for a start-up visa! Without a doubt, visa restrictions matter when deciding where to relocate to start up a business or scale up a companies’ business operations. However, this is of course not to say that visa restrictions should be the only aspect taken into account, when deciding where to make an impact!
Founding a business requires some courage and it certainly is important to realistically assess opportunities in a target market next to possible legal and administrative hurdles. Are you ready for some input? Then, let us know if you have ever considered starting up a business in…
According to NanoGlobals findings, Denmark is quite open to new founders with good business ideas and especially welcomes them, if further employment opportunities can be created through their businesses at the local level. The latter optimism is certainly also reflected on the website of Startup Denmark, which welcomes curious visitors by encouraging them to“[l]ive and launch [their] business in Denmark”, which ranked highly with regard to the ease of doing business in both 2019 and 2020.
In 2019, the World Bank highlighted Denmark’s progressive step to introduce, respectively expand, the electronic case management system “making it easier to enforce contracts” and Denmark’s flexicurity model, which allows for labour market flexibility (i.e. job mobility) and income security at the same time. In 2020, the World Bank’s report highlighted Denmark’s efficiency with regard to dealing with construction permits.
Whereas the latter might be rather specific benefits, Denmark’s thriving start-up ecosystem and the countries’ efforts towards supporting entrepreneurs certainly stand out. Beyond, the country is highly engaged on the digital frontier with its geographic location being strategic for both exports and imports. In a nutshell, its start-up visa provides the right to residence for 2 years and can be issued provided that a business received approval by the Danish Business Authority, when founders can prove that they can support their own living costs, an application fee of DKK 1,900 and disposable funds amounting to at least DKK 138,648 (around 21,000 USD).
Similar to Denmark, Sweden was highlighted to be a great location for entrepreneurs from abroad. As does Germany, Sweden offers founders a self-employment residence permit. Visa holders are allowed to stay and work in Sweden for twelve months at first, however the visa can be extended annually with the visa additionally allowing (business) travel in the Schengen area. After six years, there is a possibility for founders to also apply for a permanent residence permit. With this visa allowing some extended mobility periods, however no longer than one year, it might be suited for entrepreneurs with an interest to locate their headquarters in Sweden.
As a report on Startup Sweden shows, in 2021, investments in the Swedish tech ecosystem amounted to $7,8 billion. With tech and non-tech companies such as IKEA, Ericsson and H&M being well-known and successful companies, Sweden certainly is an innovation and impact hub in Europe. As sifted emphasized in an article from December 2021, Swedish companies that showed a commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been particularly successful in raising funding. The latter might be especially useful to know when considering a relocation to Sweden, because a strong business plan, which demonstrates a commitment to creating societal change, could possibly go a long way.
According to NanoGlobals’ findings, Estonia is a great location to start up a business. As one of the Baltic States, Estonia is in proximity to Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Finland and Denmark and also close to Poland and Germany. However, it is also bordering Russia, which might be an aspect worth considering amid the tensions of the last months. As NanoGlobals points out, Estonia offers a Digital Nomad Visa, which targets remote workers with a minimum wage of around $4,000 a month before taxes. Both remote workers and self-employed individuals can be accommodated through this visa, which expires after one year and is an opportunity to find other ways to stay in the country as an entrepreneur.
Especially, because remote workers and self-employed individuals need to submit proof that they have received the minimum income for a period of at least six months, this visa might not be a good option for individuals who earn less. Indeed, it could somewhat be called exclusive considering the fact that many entrepreneurs in the Global South earn way less than $4,000. On the other hand, for remote workers who are playing with the option of starting up a business, this visa could be ideal as it does not exclusively target founders. As stated on Startup Estonia, Estonia thrives on tech – and the latter starts already at preschool! In addition, a start-up can be created in no more than fifteen minutes, the average time for an afternoon coffee break and Estonia’s income tax rests comfortably at zero.
Our company supports start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs from Africa on their pathway to Europe and vice versa with a special, but not exclusive focus on Germany and South Africa. If you are interested in comparing options to relocate to Germany or Scandinavia, we will happily assist you in this process. Our legal services are comprehensive and we have additional expertise across various African jurisdictions. Curious? Contact us for an initial consultation today from wherever you are located!