International know-how for SMEs in the region

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Hero Mechanics Oy from Nivala found an expert in Poland to accelerate the company’s journey to the European market. Recruitment was facilitated by Talent Explorer funding granted by Business Finland.

Hero Mechanics Oy, which provides machining services, was founded in 2018. From the beginning its strategy has been to expand its operations into international markets. Last autumn, the Nivala company took an important step on this path when it recruited an expert from Poland. At the same time, the company’s workforce grew to five people.

“We had long had the idea that the best person to promote internationalization is someone who knows the culture of the target area and has language skills. However, the problem was finding a suitable person and arranging the recruitment in practice,” says CEO Esa Lohela.

The solution was found when the entrepreneur received a tip from Business Finland’s Talent Explorer funding through NIHAK. It is intended for companies taking the initial steps of internationalization to hire an expert.

Through NIHAK’s networks, a suitable person was also found. Anna Sleboda started as Hero Mechanics Oy’s sales and marketing manager at the beginning of November 2020. At the same time, she became the first person recruited to the NIHAK area through the Talent Explorer program.

Anna Sleboda & Esa Lohela

Contacts important at work and in leisure

A native of the Poznan region, Sleboda says she was comfortable in Nivala, although the big change required considerations In the end, not only the interesting work but also the good corona situation in Finland compared to the rest of Europe weighed in the scale.

– Here, my work includes marketing, customer acquisition, social media and branding. And of course I try to learn Finnish all the time, Sleboda says.

Sleboda’s main task is to help the new employer make new contacts in Central Europe. One of the target countries is Poland, which in recent years has had one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union.

Sleboda already has experience working for an international company in areas such as logistics and customer service. She considers the Finnish work culture to be quite issue-oriented, while in Poland, social relations are typically more emphasized.

In order to bring new experts to the area’s municipalities from elsewhere, in addition to work and housing, it is increasingly important to take care of comfort and leisure as well. Sleboda has also wanted to catch up with everyday life here. One good way is through hobbies.

“In Poland, I liked going hunting, and hopefully at some point I get to try it here too.”

Internationality opens up new perspectives

Esa Lohela states that the international staff brings a new way of thinking into any company, and today it is also an advantage in the eyes of domestic customers.

According to Lohela, Business Finland’s Talent Explorer funding is a good tool for a small company.

“Recruiting a new person is always a big deal for a company of this size. In our case, funding was crucial at this stage.”

Lohela himself found the application process effortless: the search criteria were clear, the online platform easy to use, and the decision came in a few days. The Corona situation did not affect the recruitment project either, and according to Lohela, it has only accelerated the plans.

“When the market situation is uncertain, effort and investments should be put into sales, marketing and company development. Now is a good time to broaden your perspectives.”

NIHAK helps companies reach a new level

NIHAK’s export expert Ari Alakangas considers the recruitment way of Hero Mechanics Oy a good example of a change in the attitude of business life.

“When companies acquire know-how from abroad, it also raises Finnish business to a better level. Compared to purchased services, the dialogue is much deeper if the person doing the internationalization work is part of the company’s organization.” Alakangas says.

From the beginning, Hero Mechanics Oy has worked closely with NIHAK. Alakangas describes himself as a godfather who travels with companies and helps them find the right services and financial instruments for each need. Regular discussions with the various financiers are important for the flow of information.

– NIHAK’s role is to work alongside the entrepreneur and free up his/her time to make a profit. As for the financiers, on the other hand, we can provide important local knowledge.

Business Finland’s Talent Explorer funding

  • A company often needs an external expert when it is heading into new international markets.
  • To meet this need, a company can acquire new knowledge and skills through Talent Explorer funding.
  • The funding is intended for SMEs that are looking for new markets abroad for their product, service or business model. The company’s group-level turnover may not exceed EUR 300 million.
  • The company can be from any industry. As this is de minimis funding, e.g. however, primary agricultural production is excluded.
  • The funding is intended to cover the costs of the expert to be hired, and a good knowledge of the target market is required.
  • The size of the project to be financed may not exceed EUR 40,000, of which the amount of funding granted by BF may not exceed EUR 20,000. The funding covers a maximum of 50% of the cost of the expert to be hired.

Read more about Talent Explorer funding

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