Aerial picture of Töölö district.

The City of Helsinki supports entrepreneurs and jobseekers amidst the coronavirus crisis

The City of Helsinki helps businesses in many ways in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and is actively seeking solutions to ease the situation for many entrepreneurs. Many services such as employment services continue normally – only remotely for the time being. Helsinki is also actively collaborating with other cities both in Finland and abroad, universities and businesses so that the city can take measures based on the most up-to-date information and help is directed in the right way. 

Information and financial support 

Sole traders suffering financial losses resulting from the coronavirus crisis are being supported by a one-time payment state grant of 2,000 euros. The grant can be applied for between the period of March 16 to August 31 and is meant for all one-person businesses, regardless of the type of business. The grant may be applied for together with the unemployment support for the self-employed.  

Companies and entrepreneurs that have provided the City of Helsinki with products or services can now ask for early payment of pending invoices before the due date. All undisputed and payable invoices that have been verified and approved in the City of Helsinki’s purchase invoicing system are processed immediately, regardless of the due date. In all aspects, the city strives to be as flexible as possible, in accordance with the law, with its partners suffering from the coronavirus situation.  

One of the first actions of the city at the beginning of the epidemic was to launch free advisory and counselling services for all entrepreneurs on how to manage the coronavirus situation. The advisory service of the NewCo Helsinki for businesses and startups is available on weekdays between 9-11 am and 1-5 pm at +358 (09) 310 36360. NewCo Helsinki also maintains a comprehensive list of services aimed at entrepreneurs to cope with the situation. 

Rent exemptions

The City of Helsinki has decided to waive rental payments for the period of April 1 to June 30 2020 for commercial tenants affected by the coronavirus situation. This waiver also applies to rent on space at Helsinki’s market places. The rent exemptions will go into effect automatically. The waiver also applies to tenants on commercial plots. Tenants deemed eligible by the city will be exempted in full from their lease invoices for a three-month period. The period for the rent exemption is, in principle, from April to June.

The tenants at uncovered restaurant terraces will be exempted from rent between April 1 and June 30 2020. The decision on the rent exemption applies to all uncovered terraces and parklet terraces, i.e. parking spaces that are temporarily repurposed for use as terraces. Rental payments of terraces will be cancelled automatically.

Employment services continue to operate

The COVID-19 crisis has not stopped the recruiting; in fact, some sectors are facing an increased demand for workers. The city’s business coordinators stay actively in contact with businesses and help employers and jobseekers find each other. For instance, hundreds of seasonal workers are needed for jobs in the fields related to gardening, vegetables and berries in the Uusimaa region for the summer. The city helps those interested in seasonal work with the job seeking and starting in a new job via a telephone service and through email.

Both the employers and the jobseekers should also bear in mind the city’s versatile employment support services such as the Helsinki benefit when hiring an unemployed Helsinki resident. Employment services continue to operate – now via telephone, email or chat.

Young people are offered summer jobs almost according to the original plan this summer. The search for summer jobs is currently on and the decisions on the recruitments will be confirmed in the following weeks. 15-30 year-old Helsinki residents can also take part in the Nuorten yrityspolku -entrepreneurial training programme, which is an entrepreneurship education including a short training, mentoring support, financial support for implementing the business idea and experience of entrepreneurial activities. New possibilities to employ young people are being looked for all the time so that as many as possible would find a summer job.

Future is being planned with the travel and events industry 

The city has gathered together actors on the fields of both the travel and the events industry to discuss the current state and the future of these fields. New ideas have come up abundantly in these discussions and are now being developed further.

Together with the actors in the events industry e.g. the following points have been discussed: what kind of guidelines should there be in use for the public to feel safe in events, how is Helsinki’s appeal secured in challenging circumstances and the organising of the events industry and its actors. Exceptional circumstances have also brought new ways of doing things. One example of this is the Vappu at Home -concept, which used the virtual reality in a new way, all the while supporting local restaurateurs and musicians. 

The travel industry is supported by the city by e.g. advice and help on the productisation, digitalisation and marketing in the new situation. Helsinki and the Haaga-Helia university of applied sciences organise weekly webinars aimed at the travel industry actors everywhere in Finland. 

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Photo: Jussi Hellsten.