Recently I moved from China to Estonia, a country a thousand times smaller and unknown to most of the people I interact with. In fact I get a slew of questions from “where is Estonia” to “is it really in Europe” to “why Estonia” and “what’s so special about it”.
To me and to most of my inquisitive readers I am presuming, a place like Estonia can prove to be super interesting. It is a tiny country in Northeastern Europe just next to Finland. With a spirit of its own, Estonia has a unique quiet and peace to it, primarily because it takes me away from the hustle and bustle of a massive country like China.
Being the youngest country within the European and particularly the Schengen area, Estonia may not be as well known as its counterparts. Nonetheless, for the curious and the tech savvy Estonia is not so much a newbie.
Its remarkable technological growth with every subsequent year has gotten it the well-deserved title of the “The most technologically advanced country in the world” and the “Technologically savvy Startup Capital of Europe” (Wall Street Journal’s Market-Watch).
The Startup Haven
Like most others, Estonia did not get it easy. Once economically shackled under the Soviet regime during the cold war, rapid innovation and digitization made this country of just 1.3 million people now a startup haven.
Today it produces more startups than any other country in Europe. Skype, Kazaa, and Transfer-Wise are some of the best shots of this Baltic state.
As of today, Estonia is a thriving technology hub of the Baltic and the Nordic region, drawing a pool of investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world with a sheer amount of talent and knowledge to nurture the ideas. It would not be wrong to say that it has emerged as the Silicon Valley of Europe.
Estonia’s Growth Strategy
There are multiple reasons why Estonia has developed so quickly in such a short period of time since the cold war ended and still has great potential to grow economically.
First of all, Estonia is considered a high-income economy within the European Union, according to the World Bank, but with a relatively lower cost of living than other European countries.
As such, it is one of the very few countries in the world making it possible to enjoy a high quality of life at relatively low living cost, making it a win-win situation for early stage entrepreneurs. Itis also enjoying a relatively high development index of 0.861 as of 2015 estimates for 2014.
Secondly, there are liberal laws for taxation and overseas investment. Starting a venture is takes as little as ten to fifteen minutes.It starts with registering the business online. In addition, there are many governmental institutions doing everything possible to help startups and nurture the ideas of students and young innovators, such as Startup Estonia, Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol, Garage 48, etc, making it an incredible place to feed the idea generation and acceleration process of business. It has become a technology hub for startups making it more innovative than ever before.
Finally, the digitalization of Estonia also has a great impact on the economy, making it one of the highly advanced E-Estonia.
Wi-Fi is – to my great surprise – free almost everywhere since Estonians consider internet access as a basic human right like water and electricity.
Furthermore, it is the only country to initiate I-voting, the opportunity to vote online during elections and to provide E-Residency, another sign of the Estonian government being highly technologically savvy.
The Challenges of the Estonian Ecosystem
Currently the primary challenge for Estonian entrepreneurship is its small population which should be growing in order to enable a new way to get ahead of the curve.
However, the news sources verify that the government is up to relax immigration laws through E-residency – a milestone in the history of Estonian digital economy – in order to attract foreign investment and a pool of ventures.
The land of opportunities for Pakistani Entrepreneurs
As far as my understanding is concerned; Estonia itself is a fantastic entrepreneurial hub proving real grounds.
This small country has undeniably technology-friendly government policies and laws, which open ups the perspectives for Pakistani entrepreneurial minds to do Business here. E-Residency solves the problem of strict immigration laws for Pakistanis.
If you have a real startup mind, then your business has much more potential to grow than other rich countries of Europe. Estonia is a perfect fit for people with great ideas to come and launch their venture quickly with ease.
About the Contributor
Sara Majid is a third year PhD student at Xi’an Jiaotong University and visiting Research fellow at Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia. Her research is based upon sustainable startups and sustainopreneurship in general.