Living in an Expat World | Expat entrepreneurs

Share price has been rising steadily since January (photo: iStock)
November 18th, 2012 8:00 am| by admin
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This week is the official Global Entrepreneurship Week: “the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare”. Flashy statement, but entrepreneurship can make a huge difference to expats, and especially expat partners who want to kick-start their careers in Denmark.

However, entrepreneurship is not for everybody and may seem overwhelming to pursue for most people, especially if you are living in a foreign country and are unaware of the rules and regulations in the field. Still, entrepreneurship can be a gateway to the Danish job market, and it is in fact easier to get started than one might think. What’s more, the organisation ‘Entrepreneurship in Denmark’ offers free seminars and counselling in English to internationally-orientated entrepreneurs who are about to start a business or already own a company.

In fact we have a lot of potential international entrepreneurs in Denmark. Research shows that many international talents bring a partner to Denmark and 54 percent of these partners have a master’s degree or higher level of education. Moreover, almost half of them have work experience prior to following their partner to a new country. Furthermore, they are familiar with potential export markets, have language knowledge and can bring new ideas to the table.

Therefore, this group of skilled workers is a potential goldmine for Danish companies. As I always say, an educated Chinese person probably knows the business culture in Beijing better than any highly educated Danish employee – and if a company taps into this person’s knowledge, it could pave the way to success in a market that was once unattainable. Unfortunately, this group of people is often overlooked.

At International Community in Aarhus we regularly meet expat partners with previous work experience and a high level of education who struggle to find a job: possibly because of language barriers or simply because many companies are unaware that they can be employed on the same conditions as Danes. They can, for instance, be hired on a wage subsidy job or company internship programme, or they can become entrepreneurs as a way to overcome unemployment and be hired as consultants when a given company deals with Mrs Chang or Señor Lopez for the first time.

To sum up, entrepreneurship can be a way of establishing one’s career, and there is plenty of available support if you need it. At the same time, companies need to realise that there is a group of skilled workers already in the country who can make a huge difference when operating internationally – and it does not really matter if they are entrepreneurs or just temporarily unemployed, they just need a chance to prove their worth.

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