top of page

Startup Refugees

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Many of you might have heard about Startup Refugees, but not all of you know its story.

This organisation has helped hundreds of people in Oulu, Helsinki and Rovaniemi to get employed, develop entrepreneurial skills and literacy, and many more.

We talked with Pietu Niinimäki, Business Program Manager (Oulu), about their organisation, customers, and their work impact.


What is Startup Refugees?

Startup Refugees is a social innovation founded in Finland. We exist because the solution for the fast integration of newcomers to the labour markets needs to be created now. Together with a network of more than 1000 members, we offer newcomers support in employment and entrepreneurship.

What is the story behind?

Startup Refugees was launched in 2015 in response to the refugee crisis and a rapid growth of migration to Finland. Riku Rantala and Tuomas Milonoff, well-known TV-faces from the Madventures travel series met with many talented asylum seekers, who were lacking professional opportunities in Finland. Riku and Tuomas came across new talents and skills that Finland did not have and they realised that refugees to Finland were a brain gain instead of just a social and financial challenge. These refugees could also bring new business ideas into Finland. So, they started Startup Refugees and within two weeks of campaigning, the initiative had gathered public sector support, NGO’s, private individuals and more than 250 businesses willing to support the cause. From there Startup Refugees has grown to be a national network with offices in Helsinki, Oulu and Rovaniemi. Since 2015, we are soon to hit 1000 jobs offered to newcomers through our network. You can follow the results count on our website:

What services do you offer?

Startup Refugees is divided into employment program and business program, which both aim to support newcomers in finding their way into the labour market. The employment program provides individual support in job seeking, trainings about Finnish working life and opportunities in developing skills necessary for employment. The business program supports newcomers who are interested in starting a business in Finland by offering courses, workshops & trainings, mentoring and opportunities to test your business ideas.

Who are your customers?

Our services are for every foreigner who lives in Finland and needs support in finding a job or starting a business. So we do not only serve refugees, despite the name of our organisation. We prioritise people who lack access to other networks and services, in other words, people who most need individual support to enter the Finnish labour markets.

How can people get involved?

The easiest way to reach us is by contacting your closest office directly. You can find our contact details on the website here: I recommend also following our social media channels in Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates on different events.

Your next event?

The application period for our autumn Entrepreneurship Courses has started. We are doing two courses at the same time, one in the English language and one in Finnish. If you are a young aspiring future entrepreneur, you have a cool business idea but don’t know where to start, I definitely encourage you to apply. You can find more information and application links here:

Author: Pietu Niinimäki

Editor: Arina Lykova

Photographer: Arina Lykova

25 views0 comments


bottom of page