Woman with computer. Photo: Julia Kivelä.

Application period extended for support targeting sole business owners

The City of Helsinki has been taking applications for state-sponsored operating support for sole entrepreneurs since mid-April. The support is a one-off payment of 2,000 euros to sole entrepreneurs to cover costs that arose from their business operations during the first few months of the coronavirus outbreak in Finland.

To date, around 6,500 entrepreneurs in Helsinki have received the support, which means the city has distributed close to  €13 million to assist these microbusinesses. Support for sole entrepreneurs can be applied for until 30 September 2020, so if you are a sole entrepreneur and you meet the criteria, there is still time to make an application. The application process is easy, and instructions can be found here

There are a total of 37,000 sole entrepreneurs in Helsinki. Judging from the number of applications filed for the support, not all of these entrepreneurs suffered losses that would make them eligible for the support. In some fields of business, the effects of the coronavirus crisis may not come to light until later, which is problematic because the period for which sole entrepreneurs must present proof of a significant fall in their turnover is 16 March - 31 August 2020. Other eligibility criteria may also limit the number of applications.

Number of new businesses back to pre-coronavirus levels in Helsinki

At the same time, it is encouraging that entrepreneurship in Helsinki seems to have picked up again quite rapidly. Already in July, the number of business start-ups was back at the same level as before the coronavirus outbreak in Helsinki. The number of clients and activities at NewCo Helsinki, the city's business advisory service, are also back to pre-coronavirus outbreak levels.

Doesn’t matter what business you are in

Entrepreneurs in virtually any field of business may be eligible for the operating support for sole entrepreneurs, but they are eligible only if: 1) their business and turnover have deteriorated notably, that is by more than 30 per cent, due to the corona pandemic, 2) if their business has made profit before the pandemic, and 3) they are registered in the YEL entrepreneur pension insurance register (or their income as entrepreneurs the previous year was at least €20,000). The support can be granted to a full-time sole entrepreneur who is engaged in economic activity in Finland. Sole entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs or self-employed professionals who have no employees on their payroll.

There are plenty of sole entrepreneurs in Helsinki. Many of them work in the services sector, but also in the creative business sector, and as different kinds of experts. The Covid-19 pandemic has strongly impacted on the situation of, in particular, small businesses in the service sector. After the epidemic, Helsinki is still going to need sole entrepreneurs to serve residents and to work as sub-contractors for bigger companies, so it is important that all those who meet the requirements receive the support”, says Senior Advisor Toivo Utso at NewCo Helsinki.

The objective of the coronavirus support for sole entrepreneurs is to help give sole entrepreneurs’ operations a more sustainable basis during and after the epidemic. The operating support is meant only to cover expenses of the regular entrepreneurship, and the support is valid only for managing the acute liquidity crisis caused by the epidemic. An absolute requirement is presenting proof of a reduced turnover meeting the eligibility criteria during the period 16 March - 31 August 2020. The deadline for applications is on the 30 September 2020.

The operating support for sole entrepreneurs is granted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and the home towns of the businesses are responsible for its distribution to the entrepreneurs. A corresponding application process applies to other Finnish municipalities as well, but support can be applied for only in the municipality where the entrepreneur is registered.

How to apply for support?

You can apply for operating support for sole entrepreneurs in Helsinki through the asiointi.hel.fi service. In the service, you will also find instructions. The e-services can be accessed at asiointi.hel.fi/yksinyrittajantuki or directly  through this link.

More extensive instructions on how to apply for the support: https://newcohelsinki.fi/en/sole-entrepreneurs/

Simple instructions with images have also been created in order to make it easier to apply for the support. They can be accessed through this link (.pdf)