Straight to content

The Finnish dream

Kasvu Open has grown rapidly to become a Jyväskylä success story. The nationally recognized growth company programme brings together experienced business leaders with growth-hungry entrepreneurs to help develop small or medium-sized companies. The Finnish word Kasvu refers to growth.

Aava & Bang Sales Director, Pete Okkonen, Central Finland Chamber of Commerce President, Uljas Valkeinen, Aava & Bang CEO, Hanna Kallio, and Kasvun Roihu CEO, Matti Härkönen are confident about the future of the Finnish business sector.
Aava & Bang Sales Director, Pete Okkonen, Central Finland Chamber of Commerce President, Uljas Valkeinen, Aava & Bang CEO, Hanna Kallio, and Kasvun Roihu CEO, Matti Härkönen are confident about the future of the Finnish business sector.
The story of Kasvu Open began in 2009. It was then Professor Marko Seppä of the Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics called on the city to introduce a programme targeting growth companies. The idea was eventually taken up by members of the Central Finland Chamber of Commerce Growth Company Committee. They began to develop a growth company competition in which participants would learn, compete and, of course, grow.

Central Finland was the first area to benefit from Kasvu Open. In January 2014, two committee member companies – the growth marketing specialists, Aava & Bang, and the growth company catalyst, Kasvun Roihu – began to work with the Chamber to scale up the idea into a nationwide programme. In 2016, key partners and the Jyväskylä Regional Development Company Jykes Ltd established Kasvu Open limited company in order to provide the growth programme with a stable footing. The company also aimed to attract more growth facilitators.

‘Experienced business leaders and growth-hungry entrepreneurs should come together,’ says Chamber president and Kasvu Open chief executive, Uljas Valkeinen, as he describes the essence of the growth programme.

‘Millers are so experienced that they can see the challenges facing entrepreneurs seeking growth,’

During the programme, volunteer mentors coach and support growth-oriented firms. Companies determine their own growth path and become part of a movement made up of more than 1,000 volunteers.

At the heart of the programme is the company’s growth strategy. Entrepreneurs receive feedback on their plans from mentors, also known as millers. A miller might be a veteran business leader, a lawyer or a consultant. The millers’ main asset is a kind of intellectual capital that benefits other entrepreneurs. Millers are direct about their views of a company’s growth strategy: they point out its weaknesses, as well as areas that require strengthening. Millers volunteer their services and avoid profiting from any business they mentor.

‘Millers are so experienced that they can see the challenges facing entrepreneurs seeking growth,’ says Matti Härkönen of Kasvun Roihu.
In discussions about growth, the issues that arise vary depending on the company in question. One firm might need help with growing its operations after the next generation has taken over the business, while another firm might be eager to boost sales. Firms use millers’ help to build networks and to identify international opportunities. Assistance could also be of a more practical nature, such as giving a company website a complete makeover.

Over the years, businesses from various sectors and different parts of Finland have joined Kasvu Open. Any company is eligible to be a part of the programme, as long as it is targeting growth. The programme is free, so participation does not depend on a company’s financial resources.

‘The idea is that anyone can be involved, including companies that are already doing well. Even nearby Paul’s machine shop,’ Härkönen adds.
Kasvu Open culminates in a final involving companies demonstrating greatest growth. However, winning the final isn’t the only thing to look forward to because Kasvu Open offers something to all participants. After participating in the programme, many firms report increased revenues and personnel – and above all they have recaptured their enthusiasm for the business.

‘It’s simply a question of the Finnish dream. We seek to dream boldly with the entrepreneurs,’ concludes Uljas Valkeinen of the Central Finland Chamber of Commerce.

  • BusinessJKL
  • #businessjkl #tekosysteemi
    BusinessJyväskylä
  • City of Jyväskylä
    Business Development and Employment
  • Voimala Business Park, Sepänkatu 4, 40100 Jyväskylä
  • P.O. Box 233, 40101 Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Invoice address: P.O. Box 186, 00026 BASWARE, Finland
  • Contact information
  • About this site

Copyright © City of Jyväskylä 2017 Top of Page