Estonia, a nation celebrated for its rapid economic growth and entrepreneurial culture, presents many opportunities for migrant entrepreneurs. The country’s approach to innovation is visible through its thriving start-up environment resulting in the highest number of start-ups, unicorns, and investments per capita in Europe, according to The State of European Tech 2022 (Atomico 2022).
Zero-Bureaucracy project and various policy initiatives are just few examples on how the Estonian government actively supports entrepreneurship. Key ministries, such as the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Social Affairs, play a pivotal role in fostering an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Enterprise Growth Strategy 2014-20, emphasising support for innovative start-ups and entities like Enterprise Estonia (EAS) and KredEx, enhances this environment by providing business counselling, training, grants, and financial support.
Significantly, Estonia’s liberalised immigration laws, including the start-up visa program introduced in 2017, encourage migrant entrepreneurs by streamlining processes and exempting tech professionals from regular immigration quotas. This program is a game-changer for start-ups, waiving stringent requirements typical for established companies and offering a path to settle in Estonia for up to 18 months to establish a start-up, with the possibility of extending to a five-year temporary residence permit.
Estonia’s e-Residency program
Furthermore, Estonia’s e-Residency program allows non-EU digital nomads to access the EU market digitally, utilise advanced e-governance tools, and efficiently manage business affairs. E-Residency of Estonia is a government-issued digital identity which gives global entrepreneurs remote access to the world’s most digital country. It provides the possibility to securely authenticate yourself online and sign documents using the most secure and efficient electronic signatures. Plus, the ability to start a company 100% online from anywhere. Estonia was the first country to offer e-Residency, starting in 2014. It remains the most popular programme of its kind for ambitious entrepreneurial people.
Support for young migrant entrepreneurs
Support for young migrant entrepreneurs is also evident through initiatives like the Livelihoods and Economy Recovery Program by the Estonian Refugee Council, which aids refugees in starting or expanding businesses, and International House Tartu, which provides valuable information and support for newcomers.
Programs like ENTRUM, a youth entrepreneurship training program, and collaborations between the Estonian Refugee Council and Garage48 in the Empowering Women Entrepreneurship Programme, highlight Estonia’s commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit across diverse demographics.
Estonia’s innovative approach, supportive policies, and entrepreneurial culture make it an ideal destination for entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and countries looking to make their mark in Europe’s dynamic start-up scene.