Success stories

Finnpartnership’s B2B Matchmaking service brought together two publishing houses


Otava found a publisher for its mathematics teaching materials in Nigeria. The new partner was found through Finnpartnership’s B2B Matchmaking service.

The Finnish publishing company Otava mainly produces teaching materials for Finnish schools, but on a smaller scale, the company has also exported books to international markets for a long time. Mari Kyyhkynen, who is responsible for international licence sales of educational materials, says that Otava has no geographical limits when looking for partners.

The publishing house has sought new openings for internationalisation, for example, through the Education Finland programme of the Finnish National Agency for Education, which includes organisations aiming to increase education exports. “At an Education Finland event, I heard about Finnpartnership. I found out about the services, subscribed to the newsletter, and also discovered the Matchmaking service, where I informed Otava’s details,” says Kyyhkynen.

Several tips on potential business partners

Finnpartnership’s B2B Matchmaking service helps companies in developing markets to find Finnish business partners and, in turn, Finnish companies to find business contacts in developing markets.

“The Matchmaking service regularly provided us with tips on potential partners, mainly from Africa. Not all of them responded. One of the candidates was from a French-speaking country, but we did not have learning materials in French.” Otava then found out about the Nigerian publisher Kachifo through Finnpartnership, and discussions with the publisher moved forward.

“I met with Kachifo representatives who were visiting Finland at Finnpartnership and presented our English-language learning materials to them. They were particularly interested in our mathematics series for primary schools. After the meeting, I sent the sample books to Nigeria, where they asked for some more information about the pedagogy of the materials. Shortly afterwards, they indicated that they would be interested in obtaining a licence for the book series.”

Muhtar Bakare, CEO of Kachifo, says he learned about Finnpartnership’s B2B Matchmaking service through a Nigerian education consultant. “I was interested in Otava’s mathematics textbooks because of their valuable pedagogical content and good track record in Finland and other countries,” says Bakare.

The editing of the textbooks was done in collaboration

According to Kyyhkynen, the communication quickly progressed to contract negotiations, where, in addition to the print books, the production of digital materials was also agreed. Once the contract was signed, Otava and Kachifo began a joint editorial effort to adapt the materials to suit Nigerian students. With 12 maths books and accompanying teacher’s guides, it was a major undertaking.

One of the most demanding tasks was to redraw the illustrations, replacing the European cartoon characters with African ones. Even the euro had to be replaced by the Nigerian naira in the maths exercises. “On the other hand, we are very familiar with this kind of editing work. It is something we do in all our international educational material projects.”

Examples of Otava’s Star Maths series published by Kachifo.

Potential also elsewhere in Africa

According to Kyyhkynen, the corona pandemic slowed down the project slightly, but in June 2023, Kachifo got to publish Otava’s Star Maths series. In the beginning, the maths books will be marketed to private schools in Nigeria, but the aim is to bring the books to the country’s public schools in the future.

“The market for a maths book series has great potential in Nigeria, given the country’s young demographic,” says Bakare. Kyyhkynen believes there may also be a market for the series in other English-speaking countries in Africa. “Once the material is localised in Nigeria, it can be made available also elsewhere with little effort. The material made for Nigeria will serve as a good reference for us of how the material promotes learning and facilitates the work of teachers.”

Otava’s international contacts come for example through book fairs. Kyyhkynen believes that new openings can also be made through the B2B Matchmaking service. “The advantage of the Matchmaking service is that Finnpartnership has already checked the backgrounds of the companies that are included in the service.”

To qualify for the B2B Matchmaking service, companies are subject to certain criteria. They must be financially viable and have been operating for at least one year. However, Finnpartnership recommends Finnish companies to always check the background of a new partner before starting collaboration.

Finnpartnership’s B2B Matchmaking database has over 180 companies from developing markets that are currently looking for Finnish business partners. These companies operate in 50 different countries in a wide range of sectors and are looking for long-term business partners and partners for exporting products to Finland. If your company would like to benefit from the free service, register to the database here.

Share on social media