The Women Entrepreneurs of Finland (Suomen Yrittäjänaiset) was set up in 1947. The goal of the Association is to promote the economic, social and operating conditions of women entrepreneurs. At present the Women Entrepreneurs of Finland has more than 60 member associations and over 5000 individual members. Almost 60 percent of members are sole entrepreneurs, 40 percent have employees. We have members fro all different fields of businesses.
Finnish women were the first in the world to get full political rights. They were also among the first to set up their own companies and to engage in independent businesses. Finnish business women were also the first in the world to form their own organisation. The Women Entrepreneurs of Finland was set up already in 1947 and it is still one of the few central bodies of women entrepreneurs in the world.
The world has changed a lot since the association was founded and so has the standing of women and women entrepreneurs. Progress has been made, working methods have changed, family life is less home-oriented and more work-oriented, and new technical equipment helps us with both working routines and household tasks.
At the same time the amount of work done by women and women entrepreneurs has multiplied as well as their responsibilities and duties. The members of us have achieved a lot by working together, but much still remains to be done. This is why our activities are growing, the forms they take are diversifying and the number of members is increasing.
Our operation principles state that the goal of the Association is to promote the economic, social and general operating conditions of women entrepreneurs and to take part in activities encouraging private enterprise in co-operation with other organisations and groups. In practice, this means using active influence at national, provincial and municipal level.
We are asked for comment and opinion on current questions concerning private enterprise, social policy and the status of women. We play an active role in the debate taking place in society on women´s role and enterprise. We work to achieve our goals in association with other organisations sympathetic to our aims. We train ourselves and improve our professional skills in order to cope even better with our everyday work in these times of rules and regulations.
At present the Women Entrepreneurs of Finland has more than 70 member associations and over 6 000 individual members. Women are showing an ever keener interest in private enterprise in Finland today. Their ambitions are being noticed and encouraged in our society.
To succeed in business, though, a woman needs more than society can give, she must have true dedication and long-range thinking together with a business idea that takes into proper account local competition.
The laws affecting businesses are the same for women and men, but the practice is different! The biggest or the most expensive problem in Finland is the maternity leave costs.
When a woman employee has to be away from work because of her pregnancy, it is her employer, who pays the costs. And the baby is not a firms fault!
Also the sectors in which women are involved are different. The segregation of branches in Finland is one of the biggest in Europe. A business woman usually has a service enterprise employing other women. This means that the social obligations and legislative issues concerning the status of women, childcare and other aspects of welfare affect particularly a woman entrepreneur.
The branches of business
32 % Retail trade
18 % business to business services
17 % social and personal services
7 % hotel and catering
5 % industry
3 % transportation and storage
3 % construction
2 % agriculture and forestry
2 % electricity
11 % other areas
The sizes of enterprises
60 % self-employed (no employees)
35 % 5-10
5 % 11<
Our operation principles state that the goal of the Association is to promote the economic, social and general operating conditions of women entrepreneurs and to take part in activities encouraging private enterprise in co-operation with other organizations and groups.
Our main concerns are:
- Costs of parenthood
- VAT registration threshold
- Social security of entrepreneurs
Costs of parenthood
The Women Entrepreneurs of Finland (Suomen Yrittäjänaiset) urges the Parliament to share out the costs of parental leave by means of broad-based taxation.
The Parliament must take measures to share out the costs of parental leave by means of broad-based taxation for the following reasons:
- Tripartite collective bargaining has not succeeded in solving the problem.
- The current system pushes young women into jobs that are only temporary.* The costs of parental leave are largely paid for by female-dominated sectors.
- One child costs the mother´s employer around 17 000 euros (wage level 3 300 euros/month).
- The largest items of direct expenditure paid for by the employer include:
- wages and holiday pay
- leave of absence during pregnancy
- leave taken to look after a sick child.
- In Finland, around a million euros of taxpayers’ money is invested in every child, including girls, by the time the child reaches the age of 20. When it comes to job recruitment, the 17 000 euro “mother risk” too often turns out to be the straw that breaks the camel´s back.
- Because of the current system, only about 30 percent of entrepreneurs are women.
- The current system hinders growth, employment and internationalisation in female-dominated sectors.
- SMEs already keep the wheels running in Finland. Over 60 percent of Finns earn their daily bread in them.
- The population of Finland is ageing fast, and hundreds of thousands of people will be retiring in the near future.
- Not enough children are born in Finland.
- The work input and entrepreneurship of women is needed to maintain Finland´s competitiveness, since half of the population are women.
- The current system is a remnant of old times that Finland no longer can afford.
VAT registration threshold
The Women Entrepreneurs of Finland demands that the VAT registration threshold be raised from the current 10 000 euros to 50 000 euros.
Raising the VAT threshold is one of the best incentives for enterprises in labour-intensive sectors and for all business start-ups. It also prevents grey economy. Furthermore, raising the VAT registration threshold would help micro entrepreneurs make a living out of their business.
At the moment, an enterprise becomes liable for VAT already when its turnover reaches 10 000 euros, and a graduated VAT relief scheme is applicable until the turnover amounts to 22,500 euros.
The Finnish VAT system came into force in 1994, before Finland joined the EU, and it has not been amended since. The Finnish system, therefore, has remained unchanged for the past 20 years; whereas, the Women Entrepreneurs of Finland is of the opinion that the VAT threshold should be reviewed regularly.
The Women Entrepreneurs of Finland lists a number of reasons for raising the VAT registration threshold:
- Due to the market situation, an entrepreneur in a labour-intensive sector is not always able to include VAT in consumer prices. In the current system, the share of VAT of the price of the final product may be larger than the share that the entrepreneur gets as payment for her work.
- The present VAT system favours those who run an enterprise as a hobby. It also distorts competition and promotes grey economy. This is the case because a lot of entrepreneurs choose to either cut down on their activity when they approach the 8,500 euro limit or do their work undeclared.
- The current VAT registration threshold in Finland is seriously lagging behind the EU average threshold of 30,000 euros.
- Due to the segregation of the labour market, women largely work in the service sector. This means that the stagnated VAT registration threshold in Finland is particularly hard on women-dominated sectors and on women´s entrepreneurship.
The threshold must be increased at least to the European average. This will encourage more Finns to start up a business and employ themselves. If a corresponding raise is also implemented at the same time in the VAT relief scheme, the decision will also help existing enterprises grow. We also have to keep in mind that a lot of other things, such as the law on public procurement, favour larger enterprises.