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Behind the scenes: a young entrepreneur Eerika shadowed MuniFin’s CEO Esa Kallio for a day

a young entrepreneur Eerika Nissilä chatting with MuniFin's CEO Esa Kallio

What was on today’s agenda?

“We had several meetings with people trying to sell something to Esa. MuniFin’s team in the negotiations always consisted of Esa and one other person, depending on the topic. We also attended a board meeting of MuniFin’s subsidiary Inspira, which focused on the company’s strategy and next year’s action plan”, Eerika says.

“I have had such an exciting day. MuniFin works with really important issues. I was expecting the place to be boring – and quiet. A lot of the staff are older, but they have young minds. The organisation clearly wants to stay competitive. The finance industry intrigues me because I like numbers. The experience has left me feeling that I want to learn more about this business.”

“It is extremely refreshing to talk to someone young and see your own work through someone else’s eyes”, Esa says.

Eerika wants Esa’s advice on which career path to follow in the future.

“You have a natural curiosity, and you are clearly adventurous. I think you would enjoy a job that involves interacting with people. You have a healthy self-esteem, and you are not afraid to put yourself on the line and always reach for the next step up the ladder”, Esa says.

A thriving café business back home

Eerika runs a live music café called Kukkakievari in Varkaus, which she renovated with her sisters.

Eerika and her 16-year-old sister Eliina run a live music café called Kukkakievari in Varkaus, which also employs their younger sister Meeri.

How did you come up with the idea of opening a café?

“Owning a live music restaurant has been my dream for a long time. I have been taking piano lessons for 11 years, and my sisters and I also perform in the café.”

However, it was Eerika’s neighbours who actually got the ball rolling. They wanted to do something useful with an empty outbuilding that they had on their property and suggested that Eerika and her sisters open a business there.

“I spent almost nine months in North America last year, because I wanted to get better at English. I was in Canada when my mother called me and asked whether I would like to run a café in the neighbours’ outbuilding with my sisters. We get on well with our neighbours, and they knew that we would probably like the idea.”

So how is business?

“Business is great. You can earn up to EUR 10,000 in the JA Company Programme, and we reached that limit after just three weeks. It was at that point that I decided to register as a sole trader.”

Eerika and her sisters advertised their business through the media.

“I tipped off our regional and local newspapers, and four of them sent reporters over to write an article about us. When they realised what it was that we were doing, they were fascinated. Facebook and Instagram have also been important in spreading the word.” 

Heart set on entrepreneurship and management

“Eliina and I are both back at school now and taking a break from the café. We do not want our customers to forget about us, which is why we are thinking about hosting a Christmas event of some kind, maybe a concert. Our plan is to reopen the café again properly in the spring and work first at weekends and then every day except Mondays for the summer holidays”, Eerika says.

Despite the undeniable success of their concept, Eerika and her sisters have their sights set on bigger and better things. They want to either expand the café or turn it into a catering business or a B&B.

“I have a meeting with a local restaurateur next week, whose advice and experience I hope will help me. I used to think that I did not know enough, but participating in the JA Company Programme has made me realise that you can always ask for help”, Eerika says.

Eerika and her sisters found out about the JA Company Programme through their local Enterprise Agency. The programme has taught them a lot about business planning and bureaucracy in particular. It has also given them many new opportunities, such as Eerika’s chance to take part in the Job Shadow campaign.

“I want to work in management, which is why I intend to go to university. I am currently leaning towards studying economics, because it is such a versatile subject. I like working with people. One day, I would like to be a human resources manager.”

MuniFin and JA Finland in a close partnership

“Eerika is an outspoken and enterprising young woman. If just 15% of Finnish teenagers were like her, our future and competitiveness would be guaranteed”, Esa Kallio says.

Encouraging entrepreneurship and preventing social exclusion among young people are crucial for the future success of Finland’s local authorities. This is why promoting education, familiarising young people with economics and politics early on and fostering entrepreneurial attitudes are at the heart of MuniFin’s corporate citizenship policy.

MuniFin is one of JA Finland’s main partners in 2019 and 2020. Schools can incorporate the JA Company Programme into their lesson plans to give their students knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. MuniFin will also have its own Signature Award category in JA Finland’s 2020 national entrepreneurship competition next spring.

In addition to the partnership with JA Finland, MuniFin is involved in Economy and Youth TAT’s entrepreneurship village project. The project is designed to give schoolchildren in the final year of primary school their first taste of the labour market, economics and political decision-making.

Text and photos: Soili Helminen