This summer, 45 adolescents interested in entrepreneurship got to test their business idea in Helsinki summer entrepreneurship programmes. The participants reported having gained much-needed experience, particularly in sales, marketing and customer service.
Young people aged 15–29 once again had the opportunity to try their wings as entrepreneurs this summer. The City of Helsinki gave 45 adolescents the opportunity to participate in summer entrepreneurship programmes and supported them with a summer entrepreneurship voucher worth 300 euros. TAT (Economy and Youth) and the Helsinki Metropolitan Area 4H implemented the summer entrepreneurship programmes and also mentored the young participants.
Most of the summer entrepreneurs were upper secondary school students aged 17–19. Some of them set up a business name for the summer, while others worked as light entrepreneurs or with a tax card. Joni Nissilä, Development Manager at the Helsinki Metropolitan Area 4H, says that all the young entrepreneurs who participated in the programme made sales during the summer.
“Many of the business ideas were quite rough at the beginning of the summer, but got polished along the way with the help of the entrepreneurship course and business plan. We also helped the young entrepreneurs with matters related to taxation, licensing and invoicing as many find these difficult.”
The adolescents were able to discuss any practical issues and share positive experiences with their mentors. Inka Salminen, who worked as a TAT mentor, noticed that although the young entrepreneurs had excellent digital skills, many of the struggled with marketing.
“Extensive social networks alone are not enough, but you need to also think about how you can reach the right target group for your services and products.”
The young entrepreneurs also got the chance to practise customer service situations in real life as the City of Helsinki gave them sales space in the Hakaniemi Market Hall in July.
“In our feedback survey, the adolescents said that working as entrepreneurs over the summer gave them courage and boosted their self-confidence. Many also felt that working improved their self-direction and ability to take initiative,” says Tella Krigsman, Project Manager at TAT’s summer entrepreneurship programme.
All of the respondents to TAT’s final survey reported that they plan to continue their business operations after the summer. As many as 75 per cent of the participants of the 4H summer entrepreneurship programme stated they were going to do the same.
New-found interest in economics
For 17-year-old Viola Igbinidu, TAT’s summer entrepreneurship programme was such a successful experience that it also made the upper secondary school student reconsider her plans for the future.
“Up until now, my plan has been to apply to university to study political science, but my experience as an entrepreneur gave me a new interest in economics,” Viola says.
Viola’s company, Helianthus, manufactures as its main product key lanyards she has designed and hand-made herself. During the summer, she made more than 500 euros in sales. In addition to the Hakaniemi Market Hall, the market places of Nurmes and Lieksa proved to be lucrative points of sale.
“My grandmother lives in North Karelia and she booked me spots in the market places. During the summer, I sold almost all of my key lanyards and also some key chains.”
Viola presents her products on her Instagram account Helianthus, where she plans to continue to showcase new items whenever she has time to make them from her busy study and hobby schedule.
“I would like to learn more about actual sales situations. For example, how to get the customer to make a purchase decision.”
“At first, I was nervous to approach customers”
The Doh Doh cookie dough cart operated by 16-year-olds Sabi Turkki, Kate Mwasi and Ronja Tuominen was a familiar sight in the centre of Helsinki this summer. The 4H entrepreneurs, who also attend upper secondary school, developed their vegan product last spring, and learned how to make it for sale so that they could minimise loss. They always announced the location of their cart on their Instagram account Kookiedohdoh.
“We first sold Doh Doh for three euros per jar, but we then raised the price to 3.5 euros in order to gain a better margin,” Ronja says.
Sabi estimates that they sold just over 200 euros worth of cookie dough in a couple of weeks.
“At first, I was nervous to approach customers and call them over to our cart, but eventually I got used to it. Foreign tourists were our main target group.”
For next summer, the trio is planning to develop new Doh Doh flavours and also explore the possibility of selling ice cream.
Online course to boost sales
Artturi Huhtakangas, 19, participated in the 4H summer entrepreneurship programme and sold guitar lessons. On his Instagram account Kitarallaa, Huhtakangas promises customers the first 30-minute guitar lesson for free. During the summer, Artturi learnt not only the technicalities of invoicing but also to optimise the length of his lessons and their pricing.
“After a couple of lessons, I realised that 45 minutes is too short a time, so I extended the lessons to 60 minutes. I also raised the price of the six-lesson package from 99 euros to 149 euros,” Artturi says.
Over the summer, he managed to gain five new guitar students. Getting the students to commit to multiple lessons turned out to be the hardest nut to crack.
“Many people like to travel and spend time at their cottages in summer, so they prefer to keep their calendars empty.
Far from being discouraged, Artturi intends to continue developing his business. He has already been thinking about customising his lessons to an online course.
“Teaching the guitar is a lot of fun. My biggest reward is seeing my customers get into playing. As soon as I am finished with my matriculation examinations, I am going to invest more in sales and marketing.
NewCo Helsinki supports young people
The City of Helsinki has been supporting summer entrepreneurship programmes for three summers now. Hannele Kostiainen, Service Manager at NewCo Helsinki, says that this is an extensive cooperation between various city units, TAT and the Helsinki Metropolitan Area 4H.
“The summer entrepreneurship programmes give young people the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship and its advantages in practice. Especially the market hall sales space we had this year proved to be a great success.”
Young people’s interest in entrepreneurship is also reflected as a steady stream of customers at NewCo Helsinki, where one third of all customers who use business counselling services are under the age of 30.
NewCo Helsinki cooperates with various educational institutes in Helsinki and thereby supports their important entrepreneurial education work.
“This year, we have reached in total 1,500 would-be entrepreneurs through events organised by our partners,” Kostiainen says.