Frequently asked questions


Answers to frequently asked questions

The following is a collection of the most frequently asked questions and their responses pertaining to Business Partnership Support. Get in touch with us if you can’t find the information you are looking for.

Purpose of applying for Business Partnership Support

What kinds of projects are supported by Business Partnership Support?

Applications for Business Partnership Support can be submitted for the costs associated with early phases of long-term, commercially profitable operations in developing countries. It is intended to cover accepted project preparation costs after they have been incurred. Project preparation costs are not considered to include the costs associated with establishing a company and beginning the operational stages (with the exception of training of personnel and the development of local business). The support is not granted, for example, for equipment or other investments in the project, the technical designing of the equipment, general product development costs or software licencing agreements.

Applications for support can also be submitted for projects already in operation. In such instances, the eligible support is for supporting personnel training or the development of local business if it supports the fulfilment and continuance of the business partnership. However, support can only be granted to cover such costs that have been incurred after the support application was registered.

Who can apply for Business Partnership Support?

Acceptable Business Partnership Support applicants are

  • A company registered in Finland (e.g. joint-stock company, general partnership, limited partnership, sole proprietor), OR
  • a company registered abroad that has a significant tie to Finland through ownership
  • A public institution registered in Finland or a public sector institution operating under public institution principles
  • A research institution, university, cooperative, chamber of commerce or similar organisation that operates in Finland
  • An NGO or association registered in Finland
  • a consortium of the aforementioned operators.

The applicant must be the implementer of the project (e.g. company seeking to become established elsewhere or importer from developing countries) and the project must be significant to its operations. Applicants cannot only occupy the role of a consultant in the project. Applicants are to have sufficient experience and commercial expertise in the industry associated with the project. In addition, the applicant must have sufficient financial and personnel resources to implement the plan.

If the applicant comprises a consortium of several operators, every member of the consortium must apply for the support with an independent application and project budget. The decision on the support will be given to each member of the consortium separately.

Can educational institutions, research institutions and NGOs apply for support?

Educational institutions, research institutions and NGOs can operate in business partnership support projects 1) as independent applicants or 2) as implementers of support function projects.

  1. In the event that the NGO/educational institution is acting as the actual applicant, the project must fulfil the terms and conditions of business partnership support and aim to become established in the target country and the project must aim for long-term commercial cooperation. In this instance, a project by an NGO/educational institution does not differ from an ordinary business partnership support project implemented by a company, for example.
  2. A support function may be a project executed by an NGO, research institution or educational institution, where the association or educational institution is not independently seeking profitable business operations in the target country. The support function project should be associated with a business project (support it) by providing additional capacity to target country resources by for example, training larger personnel groups or organising workshops etc. associated with the industry. Support functions cannot develop an actual product by producing content for it, for example. If a product is being developed in a support capacity together with another applicant and the aim is to establish its own business operations in the target country, the project cannot be considered a support function. The support percentage is always 85% in support function projects. An assigned partner or assigned partners that are applying for business partnership support or Business Finland’s Developing Markets Platform funding at the same time must always be associated with support function projects.

An NGO/research institutions/educational institution can also serve as an expert or consultant for a company, in which case the costs associated with the work of the NGO/research institution/educational institution must be accounted for in the company’s project budget. If the activities of a NGO/research institution/educational institution directly and exclusively serve a company project, e.g. providing training directly to the company, this is considered consulting.

When can I apply for Business Partnership Support?

Business Partnership Support applications can be submitted through the online service year round.

How long does it take to reach a decision?

Finnpartnership processes the applications and provides the Ministry for Foreign affairs statements to support their decision-making. The Ministry delivers the discretionary government grant decisions on granting the support to the online service. The applicant will receive the decision in approximately 3-5 months. 

What is the basis for the classification of the project countries?

Finnpartnership’s classification of developing countries, which determines the amount of business partnership support granted, is based on OECD’s Development Assistance Committee´s (DAC) list and States of Fragility  list classifications of developing countries. Please see section “Target countries and support percentage” for an up-to-date listing of target countries and support percentages.

When processing business partnership support applications, the list used for processing is always the one effective during the project’s registration date. In the event that a target country is removed from the OECD DAC listing during the validity period of the support, the payment request must be submitted and processed and the payment completed before the target country is removed from the list. Therefore, the applicant must also consider the processing time of the payment request.

If the project is to work with both an upper middle income developing country and a lower middle income developing country, the lower support percentage is applied to the project.


What is meant by “development impacts”?

Development impacts are a key aspect in all supportable projects. In most target countries indirect development impacts may be sufficient for the project to be supportable.

When a project is to occur within an upper middle income country (UMIC), the project must have direct development impacts. For example, the employment impact, tax or export income on their own are not sufficient development impacts in UMIC countries.

Direct development impacts may include creating jobs for groups of people who otherwise find it difficult to find employment, such as employing the poor, offering a product/service directed at the poor or centralising business operations in a poor region.

See examples of direct development impacts using the attachment below. It should be noted that the list only offers examples of direct impacts. Each project and its associated information are always evaluated separately as their own entities.

ATTACHMENT Finnpartnership and UMIC countries

Development impacts are also discussed at Finnpartnership’s application workshops.


Eligible project types

What projects are eligible for Business Partnership Support?

Support can be granted for projects that aim to accomplish one of the following:

1. Long-term business partnership.

An eligible business partnership is a joint activity between Finnish organizations and target country organizations in one or several of the following ways:

  • establishing a joint-venture in a with a local operator
  • establishing a subsidiary
  • importing to Finland and also potentially to other countries
  • subcontracting, service, franchise or licensing agreement
    • The licencing/franchising agreement must be associated with long-term cooperation with a local partner including partner training, contractual support or co-development of product/service
  • development of existing business in the target country
    • The studies and personnel training that are supported during the project phase must be related to one of the following: a. expansion of a product portfolio, b. finding new suppliers and c. subcontracting and similar partners, d. development of activities so they are easier to scale, e.  determining investment needs and their funding, f. improvement/development of working conditions, g. development activities so they are more responsible.

2. Piloting with an ODA eligible international organisation

Business Partnership Support can be granted to a pilot and/or demonstration project related to a commercial technology of solution that is carried out as part of an ODA-eligible international organisation (E.g. the EU, UN organisations, international funding institutes, international civil society organisations), activities, which, if successful, can be expected to lead to the more extensive deployment of a solution that produces added value for development policy.

  • Check the list of eligible international organizations from the terms and conditions of Business Partnership Support
  • A precondition for the project to be supportable is a Letter of Intent about the pilot signed with the international organization. The Letter of Intent needs to be attached to the application form
  • The piloting of one product/solution can only be supported once in a specific target country with the same international organization. The support may only be granted for one pilot with an international organization at a time. Support for piloting with an international organization may be granted to the same recipient max. two times during Finnpartnership programme period 2022-2024.

3. Feasibility study for an investment project

The support can be granted to feasibility study for an investment project that is eligible for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Public Investment Facility funding. Projects considered eligible for PIF funding are those whose concept the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has given a favourable statement on. Support can also be granted at discretion to other feasibility studies of investment projects carried out in LDCs or LMICs aiming at other similar development impacts. In this case, the condition for granting support is that the value of the investment project is at least EUR 1 million and the applicant has signed a letter of intent with the project financier or another document proving that the applicant may take part in the project.

  • Applicants can only apply for support for one feasibility study at a time and the previous plan must be ready before new support can be granted.
  • Applicants can apply for support for at most two feasibility studies every three years. During the following three year period, an applicant can only be granted support for a feasibility study, if the applicant is able to prove that at least one of their previous projects for which a feasibility study has been drawn up will move on to implementation and towards producing development impacts in accordance with a productive/existing plan.

4. Support function project

The support can be granted for joint projects between civil society organisations/educational institutions/research institutes and companies related directly to companies’ Finnpartnership business partnership projects or for projects under the Business Finland-administrated Developing Markets Platform Programme (DevPlat), so that the organisation or other operator is not seeking a business partnership that will produce a profit.. An NGO/educational institution that is seeking to establish business for itself is not a support project. Instead, the project must have one of the other aforementioned goals. A support project is intended to develop the local community and must also be directly related to the project of the company seeking business partnership support or DevPlat’s support in, for example, the following ways:

  • increasing capacity of stakeholders (incl. corporate responsibility and human rights issues-related training and occupational, technical and commercial training of teachers/coaches/pilot groups), developing cooperation networks, piloting products and services
  • developing cooperation and innovation platforms, and
  • organising seminars and workshops related to business partnership projects as a part of general awareness raising and influencing efforts.

Business Partnership Support can not be granted for industries that are on the exclusion list.

If as part of the project there will be exporting of a dual-use item (items that have both commercial and military applications) abroad, please take a look at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Export control guidelines on dual-use items for companies.

Does Business Partnership Support cover costs related to export projects from Finland?
What kind of import projects from developing countries are supported?

Business Partnership Support can be used to support the research and training phases of importing to the EEA from developing countries. These may include, for example, import partner identification, improving product quality or obtaining Fairtrade certification or other similar certification and providing training to the partner in the developing country. As with other business partnership support projects, operating costs such as freight costs are not eligible for support.


What is meant by support function projects of NGOs, research institutions and educational institutions?

The support function project type is discussed in more detail above, in the section titled “Can educational institutions, research institutions and NGOs apply for support?”.

Online service and technical questions about submitting an application

Where can I find the Intervention code and Case ID?

The locations of the codes needed for processing and their uses are listed in the below table:


How can I confirm whether the application has been successfully submitted to the online service?

Check from the “Notices” section that you have received an acknowledgement of receipt for your application. You will receive the acknowledgement of receipt in the online service 1-3 business days from submitting the application. Please note that the status of the application can only be reviewed in the service. No notices on submitting the application are sent via email, for example.

The project’s registration date is noted in the acknowledgement of receipt. If support is granted for the project and the applicant’s cost budget is approved, costs which are incurred after the registration date and are in accordance with the cost budget are eligible for support. The applicant assumes the risk for all project activities undertaken before the support decision is made.

What is the registration date of the application?

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will notify the applicant of the registration date in the acknowledgement of receipt notification provided through the online service. The registration date of the project is the date when an appropriately completed application form and its necessary appendices have been submitted through the online service.

The registration date is important, because costs incurred after that date many be eligible for support. Support cannot be granted for costs that have been incurred before the project was registered.

Discretionary government grant decision on granting business partnership support

When will the applicant receive the decision on their Business Partnership Support application?

Finnpartnership processes the applications and provides the Ministry for Foreign affairs statements to support their decision-making. The Ministry delivers the discretionary government grant decisions on granting the support to the online service. The applicant will receive the decision in approximately 3-5 months. 

How are applicants notified of discretionary government grant decisions?

Applicants are notified of the discretionary government grant decision exclusively in the online service under Notices. Therefore, the applicant should monitor the status of the application. Messages or requests for additional information in the governmental online service are not sent to the applicant by email.

At the request of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finnpartnership does not release information on the details of the provided statements.



What information about the applicant company and the project is public?

The names of the organisations that submitted the application for support as well as the names, business IDs, size, sector, region and funding models of those receiving Business Partnership Support and the date they were granted the support and the amount of granted and paid support are all considered public information. In addition, public information includes the statistical data on the project listed on the application form, the name of the project and the project country.

How do I download an approved cost budget from the online service?

The decision and the associated attachments are available in the ‘Submitted Applications’ view on the “Notices/Approval” tab. To see the decision, click the ‘View PDF’ button.

Click the ‘Download notification and attachments’ button to see the attachments.

Costs eligible for support

What costs are eligible for Business Partnership Support?

Business Partnership Support is financial support which is intended to cover a share of the costs incurred during the research, piloting and training phases aiming to establish business operations in developing countries. The most typical eligible costs are travel, lodging, wages and daily allowance costs.

Eligible costs include, for example:

  • costs incurred when evaluating a potential business partner (e.g. legal consultancy fees)
  • the recipient´s own employees´ working expenses arising from short-term work in the project country, Finland or another country relevant to the project (corresponding to the person’s regular salary as detailed in the employment contract, only on weekdays and max. 500 € per day)
  • external experts’ working expenses (junior consultant max. € 520 per day, senior consultant max. € 910 per day)
  • travel expenses to the target country or another country relevant to the project and the daily allowances for the duration of the travel
  • developing country employees’ working expenses related to training or capacity building, max. 300 working days in the staff training phase and additionally max. 100 working days in the development of local business phase.
  • in importing projects, research and development costs and test fees when preparing goods to meet the requirements for import to Finland or to the EU, as well as costs arising from tests required by officials
  • in pilot projects related to technology or solutions, planning, localisation, training as well as technical assistance and installation costs.
    • Rental fees (devices, spaces) that are necessary for the conducting of the pilot
    • Reasonable device investments, construction expenses and freight expenses, if the pilot product will remain in the ownership of the support recipient or its long-term partner for at least the duration of the validity period of Business Partnership Support, and where such expenses are relevant for the project.

Expenses related to establishing the company and actual commencing of operations (excluding training of personnel and development of local business) are not considered acceptable expenses. For example, expenses related to recruitment are considered normal operating phase expenses and are therefore not acceptable. Please note that normal operating costs of the business are not eligible for support.

The applicant should review the instructions on acceptable costs using the attachment below.

The same document also includes examples of costs that are not eligible for support (e.g. recruitment, general marketing costs and all costs that the support recipient receives from a third party).

More examples of eligible and non-eligible costs can be found in the terms and conditions of business partnership support

From what date onwards may costs be accrued for the project?

Costs that have been incurred after the application was submitted and registered in the online service may be eligible for support. The registration date of the project is the date when an appropriately completed application form and its necessary appendices have been submitted through the online service.

What are acceptable travel costs?

Acceptable travel costs are travel expenses (plane, train, boat or bus tickets as well as necessary taxi fares), hotel charges and daily allowance (approved by the tax authorities) during foreign travel in the target country or another country relevant to the project. Travel expenses are calculated on the basis of the cheapest class. Acceptable hotel charges are restricted to the maximum charges approved according to the valid State Travel Regulations. No hotel expenses other than accommodation can be covered by the support (i.e. no other services such as meals can be covered). Acceptable travel costs are also unavoidable taxi fares in Finland insofar as their cost is equivalent to the cost of public transport on the same fare.

To what extent are an applicant's internal labour costs acceptable?

An applicant may utilise their own internal labour resources for the preparatory phases of a project in the developing country if this work is performed in the project country, Finland, or another country significantly relevant to the project. The expenses may be related e.g. to identifying business partners, pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies, business plan development and the training of employees in the developing country. Only the actual working time of the applicant’s employees during business days (Mon-Fri) is eligible and up to a maximum of € 500 per day, based on the person’s regular monthly salary, as detailed in the employment contract (not including e.g. fringe benefits).

Working expenses cannot be covered when the company’s own employees/owners do not receive a monthly salary (e.g. a newly established business). Dividends, wage dividends, owner withdrawals or other similar payments are not eligible for support. In such instances, however, travel, lodging and day allowance costs may still be eligible. The content of workdays must be itemised at the application phase on a daily basis and be proven at the time of payment. The recipient must organise the use of working hours monitoring. Work carried out in Finland or another country related to the project cannot be supported again in the project country as work with the same content.

When the applicant company employees train the developing country company employees, the work expenses of the applicant company’s employees can only be, in principle, covered for training that takes place in the project country. Work related to normal, everyday activities related to the project, e.g. the running or set-up expenses of machinery, are not covered.


To what extent are external expert fees acceptable expenses?

The limit for acceptable expert fees for experts/consultants is EUR 520 per day for junior consultants and EUR 910 per day for senior consultants. Actual expert fees may exceed these maximum limits but these are nonetheless applied to the expense coverage of the support.

External experts may be consultants, lawyers or interpreters utilised in connection with feasibility studies, market studies, business plans and social and environmental impact assessments. In addition, external experts may be used for providing training or developing the local business of the company in the developing country. Expenses from the use of legal services are acceptable for consulting and writing contracts.

Developing country employees are not considered external experts.

An auditor’s fee incurred for the audit required for payment requests is an eligible expense. Bookkeeping and financial management generally associated with the project are not eligible.

What costs incurred in the technology or solution piloting / demonstration phases of a project are eligible for support?

In addition to work, travel and accommodation expenses, eligible expenses in the piloting phase may include

  • planning expenses, localisation, training, other technical support and installation work related labour expenses
  • equipment and facility rents necessary for the piloting
  • reasonable equipment investments, construction costs and freight costs, if the pilot or other similar equipment is owned by the beneficiary or a developing country partner at least for the Business Partnership Support period in question and provided that the investments are considered essential with regard to the nature and the feasibility of the project.
What are not acceptable costs?

The support does not cover, for example, the following costs:

  • costs considered normal business activities such as marketing, sales, recruitment and communication.
  • expenses arising from the identification of an agent or distributor to serve a Finnish exporter, or expenses that are immediately linked with machinery and equipment supplies, which are not meant to lead to a long-term business partnership in line with terms and conditions of Business Partnership Support
  • training included in licencing or franchising agreements
  • general market research expenses that are not related to the promotion of business partnerships in line with the terms and conditions
  • expenses arising from participation in competitive tendering or preparation of export trade that does not involve a long-term partnership as required by the terms and conditions
  • planning and preparation of travel and remote meetings
  • expenses arising from the procurement of machinery and equipment needed for implementation of the project and other production investments
  • general marketing expenses and the cost of marketing material
  • general product development expenses for products and solutions and related testing expenses (other than market-specific merchandising expenses related to developing country imports)
  • general costs related to seminars or visits that are not related to the promotion of business partnerships that are in compliance with terms and conditions or their essential support functions (such as identification of business partners or corporate responsibility)
  • work carried out by the recipient’s own employees on weekends
  • the portion of the working expenses of the company’s own employees and the wages/fees of external experts that exceed the maximum limits set for these,
  • expenses arising from travel within Finland, unless they are connecting trips
  • per diem allowances in Finland unless they are connected with travel to the project country or another country relevant to the project
  • per diem allowances for employees from the project country during their training in Finland,
  • mileage allowances and non-essential taxi fares in the project country or another country relevant to the project
  • conventional travel and personal insurance
  • costs of medicines that are not necessary considering the conditions in the project country
  • parking costs
  • courier service costs
  • representation costs
  • facility costs (excl. support function projects and mandatory costs in during piloting)
  • project accounting costs
  • fundraising costs
  • reserves referred to in the Accounting Act (1336/1997) (with the exception of provision for holiday pay)
  • imputed cost items that are not based on actual costs
  • severance pay or wage expenses paid for notice period with no work obligation
  • non-statutory additional pensions, profit-based compensation and bonuses
  • court costs or compensation imposed by a court as well as other penalty-like fees, such as clawback obligations, fines, interest on delay or reminder fees
  • costs or deficits of other projects that have received support
  • other possible costs not eligible for support

See more information on eligible costs. 

What action should the applicant take if changes are made to an approved project budget?

In the event that the business plan and/or project budget change, the company should request authorisation for the change by submitting a notification of amendment form to the government e-service.

If Finnpartnership/Ministry for Foreign Affairs has not approved the changes to the business plan and project budget, the changes in question may not be accepted when payment is requested or the changes may only be partially accepted. For more information, please get in touch with Finnpartnership,

Validity period of Business Partnership Support and payment of support

How long is the granted support available to the recipient organisation?

Business Partnership Support is valid for 24 months from the notice date of the governmental aid decision. Extensions cannot be granted for Business Partnership Support. You can find the notice date in the Notices section of the online service.

When is the support paid?

Business Partnership Support is paid after the costs have been incurred, paid and 100% audited in accordance with the costs included in the approved project budget.

The recipient of Business Partnership Support may apply for reimbursement in one or two installments.

Finnpartnership processes reimbursement requests in the order that they were received. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for payment.

Read more on reimbursements.


Can an extension be filed for granted support?

It is not possible to apply for an extension for granted Business Partnership Support. The receiving entity must request reimbursement with a separate reimbursement request before the due date.

How do I apply for payment for a project?

Business Partnership Support can be paid to the recipient once the recipient of the support has sent the commitment to adhere to the terms and conditions of business partnership support. Support recipients are to submit the appropriately filled in commitment form to the Ministry’s online service within one month of being notified of the decision.

The recipient of Business Partnership Support may apply for reimbursement in a maximum of two instalments.  The reimbursement request and its appendices are submitted through the Ministry’s online service.

The reimbursement request consists of:

  • the Reimbursement Request Form
  •   a report on realised costs (itemised costs signed by an auditor), also included in Excel format. Costs should be itemised by project phase using Finnpartnership’s template.
  • statement and checklist completed and signed by auditor
  • progress/final report

All necessary instructions and documents for submitting payment requests are in the Payment and Reporting Instructions section.

What are the reporting requirements associated with the support?

In connection with every payment request, the applicant is to submit a progress report that describes the project’s activities and use of funds. If the support expires without payments being made, the applicant is to provide a short description of why the project has not been carried out (Guidelines for preparing a progress report section 1.1. c). More detailed instructions on Finnpartnership’s reporting practices are available in the Payment and Reporting Instructions section.

In addition, the support recipient is required to report on the progress of the project in two follow-up reports. The first follow-up survey is sent to the company electronically no later than one year after the support has expired. The second follow-up survey is sent to the company electronically no later than one year after the first follow-up survey was sent. Finnpartnership will supply the recipients of the support with the follow-up reporting form.

If the support expires without payments being made from it, the applicant is to provide a short description on the project’s failure to occur.

Communications on Business Partnership Support from the perspective of recipients

How can a recipient communicate the fact that Business Partnership Support has been granted?
  • Recipients of Business Partnership Support are encouraged to issue communications on the operating environments and development challenges which they seek to address in the work they do in developing markets, the progress of their projects, including successes and challenges, and the results of their work.
  • Grant recipients are recommended to communicate the fact that the project has been granted Business Partnership Support under the development cooperation fund of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. For example:

The project was granted Finnpartnership support under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ development cooperation fund. 

  • Communications related to the project must not include the logos of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or Finnpartnership.