Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Finland’s trade promotion organization, Finpro won the Award for the “Best of the Best” TPO and the Best TPO from a Developed Country.
With a small population of 5.3 million people and a small economy, Finland has had to make a big effort to link the country’s industry to the global economy. Trade promotion has been crucial.
Finpro was founded 88 years ago. From the outset, Finpro enjoyed strong government support, including substantial funding. That made the Finnish government a partner, but not the owner of Finpro.
As Finpro put it, “a small economy [such as Finland’s] is like a mouse surrounded by big fat cats. The key to success does not lie in volume or efficiency, but in the ability to move more quickly than the others.”
Window to global business
Finpro was no longer simply an export promotion agency or a mere service provider. “We think beyond exports,” said Finpro. “We operate as a window to the future of the global business for Finnish industry. With our new, non-traditional approach we pave the road for enterprises towards sustainable exporting capacity and diversified international operations in order to succeed in a dynamic global competition.” Consulting accounted for two-thirds of Finpro’s chargeable revenue, so long-term client relations were important, as well as frequent client feedback measurement.
One reason for Finpro’s success was the establishment of 53 offices in 40 key country markets. The locally recruited professional staff had been extremely effective. Of its total staff of almost 300 in 2006, about two-thirds worked outside Finland. This permanent presence abroad constituted the most valuable source of knowledge for Finpro’s clients. In an average year, Finpro served more than 3,000 clients who downloaded about one million documents.
Understandably, Finpro experienced numerous structures and policies, work programmes and changes in approach since its inception. Finpro said “the road from a traditional export promotion service provider to a national foresight organization has been so far a roughly 10-year conversion process. The first five years were needed to understand the new vision for our existence, the following five years to make it concrete and operative.” The process inspired wide international attention among the TPO profession and national policy makers and Finland was extensively benchmarked by colleagues.