As an immigrant, finding information about your new hometown and its possibilities could be tricky. In addition, you might lack a community and a job as a newcomer.
After her own and her friends’ struggles, Arina Lykova decided to start a company and help immigrants in finding knowledge related to work, studies, and leisure opportunities in Oulu. EntreCom Enterprise Community was established last year with a piloting project called Entre#Oulu.
“We create content and raise awareness on various topics such as education for foreigners, registering a business as a foreigner, intercultural interaction, internationalisation, and integration. Our aim is to make Oulu a bit more diverse and inclusive, and thus prevent brain drain from the city and the country,” says Arina Lykova.
As the CEO of the company, she is responsible for content creation, managing the website, communications, negotiations, and finding funding opportunities – among many other things. She is thankful to her team that helps her whenever they find free time and inspiration to contribute to the project.
A rewarding job
Alex Hopkinson joined the team last December. He works both in the IT and restaurant sectors but wants to contribute to the project as a marketing expert in his free time. His main role is to enable interaction within the international community in Oulu and Finland.
“There are a lot of foreigners in Oulu. A lot of them actually don’t know each other. I haven’t met a single British person here in Oulu yet, but I’ve heard there are a lot of them. We need word-of-mouth communication to spread information among foreigners,” says Hopkinson who himself also comes from Great Britain.
Another contributor, Hansika Ambahelagedara, joined the team as an intern last year. After her internship, she decided to continue as a volunteer. Writing articles and working with other international talents have been rewarding for her.
“Failure stories and success stories give inspiration and motivation. Hearing about the experiences of others boosts you. That is why this work is so important to me. Writing articles and creating content was a whole new experience to me. I have learnt new skills and got networks. It has been a really good journey for me,” she sums up.
The community is growing
Arina Lykova says that the first year in a startup is all about experimenting, learning through doing, and testing what works and what does not.
Lykova is happy to see that people are becoming more aware of the company and its offering. She and her team have been invited to take part in different events and discussions to introduce the company and she has been co-operating with several other Finnish and international companies and communities.
“Recently, we have started as official partners and facilitators of the international entrepreneurial programme ‘Nordic Social Entrepreneurship 3.0’ in Finland. It is a unique programme and I am excited to be a part of it,” she says.
Arina Lykova is also happy that the audience of EntreCom Enterprise Community is growing. About 30–40% of the followers are Finnish people that are interested in intercultural collaboration.
This encourages her and her team to dream of expanding the concept to other smaller cities of Finland and growing internationally as well.