By Richa Chakravarty
Trade is one of the cornerstones of Indo-Finnish relations, with India being Finland’s fourth largest trade partner in Asia. The policy of the Finnish government has always been to share its expertise to increase international cooperation. Finland, being a global leader in the ICT sector, has naturally led to trade with India, one of Asia’s leading ICT hubs. The growing Indian economy seems to be another reason for Finland to consider India as a business destination.
India has a decade long trade relationship with Finland. Currently, there are approximately 90 Finnish companies in India, with 25 in the ICT sector. Although Finland has a strong knowledge base and know-how, it needs commercial partners. With Nokia, a Finnish company, setting up its manufacturing base in Chennai, one is sure that more large companies will now explore the vast potential of the Indian market.
Finpro’s role in accelerating trade
Finpro, a global expert network established by Finnish companies, has been a catalyst in helping develop trade between the two nations. “Finpro’s mission is to help Finnish companies establish trade internationally with minimum risk and maximum profit. “We mostly work with SME companies in the ICT sector. There are companies who have resources and aspire to grow, but are unable to invest time and find the right company. We help them to find the right partners in India, and reassure Finnish companies that the venture they are getting into is reliable one,” says Ilpo Sarikka, head, Finpro India.
With 50 trade centres worldwide and three in India (Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai), Finpro has a total strength of 350 people, with almost 250 from outside Finland. These are local professionals from different industries with the right networks and a good understanding of the sector.
Finpro has been proactive in helping Indian companies as well, by partnering with them to invest in Finland. One of its strengths is its global network. The Finpro India team is in close touch with its Finnish counterparts and are well connected with the Finnish companies. “We help Indian companies through our own networks, directly. We provide free business service connections for foreign companies. If you are looking for Finnish suppliers, co-operation partners or importers, you can take advantage of Finpro’s business lead service (www.finpro.fi/businessleadservice). Companies can log in to our website and submit information about themselves along with their proposal for Finnish companies to view. Also, once the Finland partner finds the proposal encouraging, we follow up and ensure both the interested companies find each other,” explains Sarikka.
Services for SMEs and large companies
Finpro advises possible partners on overcoming the language barrier, the contrasting weather conditions in the two countries, other dos and don’ts regarding the corporate culture, etc. Moreover, on receiving encouraging proposals, Finpro can make a background check about the companies regarding their authenticity and seriousness about the proposal. Though electronics is a very strong sector that continues to grow in India, not too many Finnish companies have shown interest in this sector. They have also shown interest in heavy metal engineering companies, ICT, etc.
Finpro believes that in many cases manufacturing needs to be done where the consumers are—like in India and China. Moreover, India is being viewed as a potential country to invest in, and India is now one of the most interesting new markets for Finnish companies. “Lot of Finnish companies are now looking for partners here, especially in the telecom segment, and our role is to find partners for these companies, and then follow up as and when plans develop,’’ adds Sarikka.