c/o Teollisen yhteistyön rahasto Oy (FINNFUND)
P.O. Box 147
00181 Helsinki - FINLAND
tel: +358 9 348 434 (please ask for Finnpartnership)
The cooperation between Boutique Freda, a women’s shoe shop, and the Colombian Alterados shoe factory has had a promising start. Finnpartnership’s company spotters brought the two together.
There is a selection of stylish leather shoes, bags and belts on the table. These are samples of the Colombian Alterados Company’s products, which are now available in Finland. The company’s founders, Yolanda Guarin, Nidia Alceta and Edgar Hernandez, visited Finland at the end of August and met Rita Nurminen, the owner of Boutique Freda, the company selling their products. Both partners said that their cooperation had had a promising start.
“The initial test batch of shoes, which we received in the spring, has been very well received by our customers,” Rita Nurminen notes. Furthermore, Yolanda Guarin says that Finland is an interesting first step on entering the Nordic market as well as the European-wide market. “Up until now, we have exported goods to the US and Canada, in addition to operating on our domestic market,” Guarin says.
Alterados was founded in 2011 in Colombia’s second-largest city, Medellín. In addition to the company’s 30 employees, it also provides work to 15 sub-contractors. Alongside shoes, the company also produces other leather goods, such as belts and bags. According to Guarin, the main principle is to produce high-quality products with a good price-quality ratio. “Our aim is to produce goods which are suited to all markets. They can be adapted to fit the local market, such as Finland,” Guarin says.
The Colombian company’s concept is well suited to Rita Nurminen, who has had her shoe business for seven years and is specialised in ladies’ fashion footwear. “Our range does not include the box-standard options,” Nurminen stresses. Boutique Freda has its own small shop in Helsinki and 30 stockists around the country. The company has also expanded its network into Estonia.
Alterados’ and Boutique Freda’s paths crossed in Finnpartnership’s Matchmaking programme, through which the companies were given the opportunity to start their cooperation. In the Matchmaking Programme, Finnpartnership picks the most potential companies among the business partnership initiatives in developing countries and starts looking for a partner for them in Finland with the help of a company spotter.
Company spotters are independent consultants who have good industry understanding, wide networks and an ability to recognise the forms of global cooperation between companies. The service is free of charge for the participating companies. In this case, there were two company spotters. The founder of Viento Trading, Andres Archila, is a Colombian living in Finland who has brought valuable Latin American knowledge into company matchmaking.
Juha Merinen and his company, SMART Internationalization, on the other hand, has already helped a number of Finnish companies to launch international cooperation in Asia and Latin America. “When Juha Merinen initially contacted me, I said no. But when I heard that the matchmaking does not cost anything to the company, I started thinking about it and explored the shoe range on their website,” Rita Nurminen says.
According to Juha Merinen, the cooperation between Alterados and Boutique Freda is a model example of business partnerships that benefit everyone. The company in the developing country can expand its operations to the global markets. And the Finnish company benefits through increase in turnover with the new products.
Merinen emphasises that matchmaking requires extensive cooperation between companies, consultants, Finnpartnership and the Team Finland’s other actors. “Immigrants living in Finland could play a bigger part in creating new business relationships. They have potential skills and contacts in their former home countries,” Merinen notes.
Andres Archila believes that new, mutually beneficial business partnerships could be created between Finnish and Colombian companies. In addition to leather goods, there are other Colombian products, such as foodstuffs that would be suited to the Finnish consumer market. “A good example of that is Colombian coffee, which is naturally the best in the world,” Archila relishes.