Immigrant entrepreneurs have a pivotal role to play in the Finnish economy. A study from Suomen Yrittäjät, the Finnish Enterprise Association shows the growth of immigrant-owned companies. The industry with the largest share of immigrant entrepreneurs is the restaurant businesses, and in second place are those that offer personal services such as cleaning services, hairdressers, and beauty salons. One of the front line immigrant entrepreneurs who is regarded as a trailblazer is Rita Kostama, the refugee turned entrepreneur. Her company is celebrating its fifth year anniversary and Diaspora Reporters was able to ask her some questions below;
Please introduce yourself?
My name is Rita Kostama, I’m 41 years old. I am married and a proud mother of 2 children. I am an entrepreneur and also a politician. I came to Finland as a refugee quota in 1998. My first hometown was Turku. In 2001, I moved from Turku to Espoo, then to Järvenpää with my family in 2009. I was named Refugee Woman of the Year 2016 by the Finnish Refugee Council. In 2017, I was elected as City Councilor and a Parish Councilor both in Järvenpää. In spring 2020, I was elected as a member of the HOK-Elanto Council of Representatives. I was a Coalition Party Parliamentary Candidate for the 2019 Finnish election in the Uusimaa district.
I had my education in Finland. In 2005, I got a vocational qualification in Business and Administration (VQBA), and in spring 2015, I graduated as BBA from Laurea University of Applied Sciences.
My hobbies include figure skating and ice swimming. In addition, I do volunteer work in different organizations, at the local church, and in my town. I am a public speaker, for example, I visit schools and participate in panels. I’m cheerful, helpful, hard-working, kind, and brave. I value safety, family, education, work, equality, and well-being.
Please tell us about your company?
My company’s name is KIRJANPITOPALVELU KOSTAMA. I established the company in Järvenpää, after my graduation from Laurea University of Applied Sciences in 2015. The campany’s comprehensive services cover both bookkeeping and accounting and also the facilitation of business start-ups. Kirjanpitopalvelu Kostama’s principle is to provide reliable and customer-oriented financial management services to its customers. In 2017, Kirjanpitopalvelu Kostama began interpreting and translation services.
We provide high professional standards to ensure the quality and reliability of its services.
Did you experience any challenges during the early stage?
Yes, I experienced some challenges during the early stages of the company. Getting a customer and making the customer permanent was a challenge. Another challenge was that when I established the company I was still working, so it became difficult for me to cope. I want to use this opportunity to encourage also other immigrants living in Finland, I want them to know that they can achieve their dreams if only they are resilient, dogged, and determined.
What is the vision of the company?
To become the most reliable and recommended company. To provide high professional standards to ensure the quality and reliability of our services.
The company is celebrating its 5th anniversary, do you have any success story
I am extremely grateful because I have been able to achieve one of my dreams, that is, becoming my own boss. I finally got the opportunity to do the job that I love. The biggest achievement is that 3 years ago, I started working as an entrepreneur 100%. Another achievement is that my company is growing well and this allows me to be able to help others as well as being around when my family needs me and also communicate with the children.
Another achievement is that my company has been able to offer internships and work trials. My company employs workers through temporary employment agencies. My company supports associations, for example by sponsoring local sports clubs and providing free accounting services. To round it up, this year I was able to say goodbye to my home office and moved into a rental office space in the center of Järvenpää, it’s a big plus to the company and I’m grateful. I want to thank my family for their immense support, I also want to thank my mentors in the field for their invaluable advice and guidance.
My appreciation will not be complete without saying a very big thank you to my numerous customers.
I’m Delighted To Work With The Face Of African Queen Finland Says Vaatepuu Owner
One of the sponsors of The Face of African Queen beauty contest is Vaatepuu, a clothing shop that operates like a public library where you can borrow books but in Vaatepuu, you can borrow clothes after becoming a member and the membership lasts for 6 months. The company is situated in different locations where a member can borrow sustainable Finnish and Nordic designs for all occasions.
In a telephone interview with Obi-West Utchaychukwu, the publisher of Diaspora Glitz Magazine and the founder of The Face of African Queen beauty contest, Soile-Maria Linnemäki, the onwer of Vaatepuu explains why she ventured into such business, her view about integration and why she developed interest in becoming one the sponsors of the first ever beauty contest for people of African decent.
People borrow sustainable clothes from us and once they get familiar with the brand they will have to buy it Soile says. Vaatepuu owner studied civic activities at the University of Applied Sciences. The finalists of The Face of African Queen wore her dresses during the Press Day that was held at the exotic Casino Helsinki.
Järvenpää City Councilor, Rita Kostama is one of the customers of Vaatepuu, she was clothed by the way clothing line when she won the Refugee Person of the year 2016.
I’m really delighted to work with the organizers of The Face of African Queen and seeing the gorgeous ladies wearing my clothes makes gladdens my heart
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