Frequently asked questions

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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). 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 developing or changing a particular business area, 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, one of the consortium members must be the applicant with primary responsibility. 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. Consortium members can utilise shared expertise and reporting in their project.

Can educational institutions and NGOs apply for support?

Educational 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 association 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 at the same time must always be associated with support function projects.

A NGO/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/educational institution must be accounted for in the company’s project budget. If the activities of a NGO/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 government aid decisions on granting the support to the online service. The applicant will receive the decision in approximately 3-5 months. 

N.B. Finnpartnership’s funding situation has changed due to increase in demand, which is why the processing period of the applications registered after May 1st, 2018 can become longer.

 

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) classification of developing countries. The three least developed country classifications in the DAC List are grouped together as “lower medium income developing countries”, and the “upper medium income developing countries” are considered a separate group. The list currently in use is the DAC List of ODA recipients effective for reporting on 2018, 2019 and 2020 flows.

An additional country group are fragile states, which may belong to any of the aforementioned groups, but are classed as fragile.  Fragile countries include the countries of the “Harmonized List of Fragile Situations 2018” list, which have a CPIA of ≤ 3 or undefined, and Jordan.

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:

 

  • establish a joint-venture in a developing country with a local operator

 

  • establish a subsidiary in a developing country

 

  • importing from developing countries to Finland as well as potentially to other countries

 

  • subcontracting, service, franchise or licencing 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 a product/service, for example

 

  • pilot or demonstration project that aims to achieve long-term cooperation
    • If successful, the pilot or demonstration project should lead to starting long-term business operations. Both technical pilots and commercial demonstrations can be considered pilot projects.
    • The self-funding share required by international organisations (EU, UN organisations, international financial institutions) is also eligible for support.
    • Business partnership support cannot be granted to one company for pilot and demonstration projects in more than three different countries.

 

  • Support projects implemented by NGOs and institutions that are directly related to business partnership support projects of companies. In this project type, the NGO/educational institution itself is not seeking to establish commercial activities. 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 in, for example, the following ways:
    • increasing capacity of stakeholders (incl. corporate responsibility and human rights issues and occupational, technical and commercial education), developing cooperation networks, piloting products and services
    • developing cooperation and innovation platforms, and
    • organising seminars and workshops.

 

  • Developing existing vocational education activities or or starting a new education project, such as a training programme. The purpose of the education activities launched in this type of project is to create occupational expertise that promotes the applicant’s business partnership support project in the target country. Operators that aim to engage in education business must fulfil the requirement of seeking to become established in the target country, meaning they must either establish a company or licence an educational product in the target country.

 

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

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 and educational institutions?

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

Online service and technical questions about submitting an application

What to do if the application forms on Finnpartnership’s website won’t open?

 

  • Application forms (basic information sheet and application for business partnership support) should be downloaded to your computer and opened with the free Adobe Reader software.
  • Some Internet browsers (e.g. Microsoft Edge) open application forms by default in a new browser window, which leads to an error message. Download the form to your computer using the icon in the top-right corner (highlighted in red in the below picture). Open the downloaded form using Adobe Reader.

 

Where can I find the Intervention code, UHA 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.

If the Ministry notifies you through the online service that it is necessary to supplement the application, the supplementary information is submitted by adding the requested information/appendices to the Notification of Amendment form, which is uploaded to the online service. The Notification of Amendment form is available on the Application Instructions and Forms page.

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.

Governmental aid 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 government aid decisions on granting the support to the online service. The applicant will receive the decision in approximately 3-5 months. 

 N.B. Finnpartnership’s funding situation has changed due to increase in demand, which is why the processing period of the applications registered after May 1st, 2018 can become longer.

How are applicants notified of governmental aid decisions?

Applicants are notified of the governmental aid 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?

Due to the public nature of business partnership support the name of the organisation and support recipient’s name, industry, project name and amount of support are public information.

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 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)
• external experts’ working expenses (junior consultant max. € 520 per day, senior consultant max. € 910 per day)
• the recipient´s own employees´ working expenses arising from short-term work in the project country or another country relevant to the project (max. € 500 per day, based on the person’s regular monthly salary, as detailed in the employment contract)
• 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. 200 working days)
• 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 and training costs as well as technical assistance costs. The production costs of pilot products are also eligible for support.

 

Expenses related to establishing the company and actual commencing of operations (excluding training of personnel) 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 costs that are not eligible for support (e.g. recruitment, general marketing costs, tax fares in Finland and all costs that the support recipient receives from a third party.)

ATTACHMENT Costs eligible for 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).

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 target country 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.

When the applicant company employees train the developing country company employees, the work expenses of the applicant company’s employees can only be covered for training that takes place in the project country (not for training that takes place e.g. in Finland). 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 business area for 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 and therefore their working time is not an acceptable cost, because it is seen as part of the company’s normal business operations.

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?

The costs associated with piloting technology and solutions and demonstration projects that are eligible for support include technical support and planning and training costs associated with piloting. Acceptable costs for piloting technology and solutions and demonstration projects also include freight costs and the labour costs associated with installation work. Reasonable investments in equipment and construction costs may case-specifically be eligible for support if the pilot device or other similar asset remains the property of the support recipient or the partner in the developing country for at least the period the associated business partnership support was granted for. A further requirement is that the equipment or asset must be important to the nature of the project and its operational feasibility.

One company cannot receive support for more than three demonstration projects. In principle, a demonstration project is regarded as illustrating the capabilities of one unit. Separate demonstration projects should be to different countries.

What are not acceptable costs?

The support does not cover the following costs:

• any expenses for which the recipient obtains support from a third party
• expenses arising from the identification of an agent or distributor to serve a Finnish exporter, or user training expenses that are immediately linked with machinery and equipment supplies, which are not meant to lead to a longer-term business partnership according to the terms and conditions of the business partnership support
• general market research expenses which are not related to the promotion of business partnerships according to the terms and conditions of the business partnership support
• expenses arising from participation in competitive tendering or preparation of export trade which does not involve a long-term partnership required by the terms and conditions of the business partnership support
• purchase of machinery and equipment needed for implementation of the project and other production investments
• the recipient’s own employees’ labour cost in Finland
• work done by the recipient’s own employees during weekends in the target country
• travel expenses in Finland unless they are connecting trips
• use of taxi services in Finland
• unnecessary taxi fares in the target country or another country relevant to the project
• kilometre reimbursements
• day allowances in Finland unless they are linked with travel to the target country or another relevant country to the project
• per diem allowances for target country employees while in training in Finland
• general marketing and marketing material expenses
• general product development expenses and related test expenses (other than market-specific merchandising expenses related to developing country imports and expenses related to the piloting of technology)
• general seminar or visit expenses that are not related to the promotion of business partnerships according to the terms and conditions of business partnership support (such as identification of business partners)
• long-term costs and/or costs arising from usual maintenance (e.g. wages of the ordinary staff of the facility, rent, funding expenses and running expenses, such as electricity and water) related to professional training and local training activities
• courier service expenses
• medical expenses that are not necessary considering the target country conditions
• representation expenses
• expenses from renting a meeting room and catering
• recruitment costs
• costs considered ordinary operating costs, marketing
• the portion of wages / fees that exceeds the maximum limits set for the company’s own employees and external experts´ wages / fees.
• Other non-eligible costs identified by the auditor

See more information on acceptable 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 in writing. Always contact Finnpartnership before starting the operations in question.

If Finnpartnership 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.

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. Companies that have applied after 1 January 2016 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 installments.  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), preferably 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
  •  Applicant’s trade registry certificate or if the company is registered abroad, a similar document (no more than 3 months old) which includes the applicant company’s representation rights

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?

When submitting the payment request, a final report must be included if reimbursement for all costs is requested in a single instalment or if the payment request is for a minimum of 2/3 of the granted support; in other instances, the progress report, which requires a less detailed report on project progress and the use of funds, is submitted when submitting the payment request. 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.

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