Coronavirus: Guidance for businesses

The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on business activity in Finland is considerable. Through various measures, the Government is seeking to ensure that businesses will be able to continue operating on a viable basis after the coronavirus crisis is over.  

We have assembled important information here for businesses, including details of who to contact.

Enterprise Finland’s Talousapu financial assistance service offers advice to businesses facing payment difficulties and provides information on what to do in various situations caused by the coronavirus crisis. The national phone number of this service is +358 29 502 4880, and it is open Monday–Friday 9.00–16.00. More information on Suomi.fi

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Support for business costs

The objective of business cost support is to help companies cope with the difficult economic situation caused by the coronavirus. The support is compensation for the company’s inflexible costs and payroll costs, but it does not compensate for a fall in turnover. The support is targeted at companies whose turnover has decreased by at least 30% due to the coronavirus.

The State Treasury is in charge of the application round. The State Treasury will start accepting applications from companies on 21 December 2020, with the application period lasting until the 26 February 2021.

Due to the reduced turnover caused by the coronavirus pandemic, companies have struggled to pay inflexible business costs and payroll costs. The business cost support is intended for companies whose turnover has fallen by at least 30% due to the pandemic between June and October 2020, compared with the corresponding period in 2019. If the company was established on or after 1 May 2019, the reference period is from 1 January 2020 to 28 February 2020.

In addition to the company’s own turnover, the decrease in the turnover of companies in the same business sector will be assessed. If the turnover of the sector has decreased by at least 10%, the sector is deemed to have suffered from the coronavirus and the company can apply for business cost support without any additional justification. Assessing the situation in the sector will help to direct support specifically to those companies affected by the virus and speed up the processing of the company’s application at the State Treasury.

The sectors covered by the support are laid down in a separate decree. The sectors can apply for support without providing further justification. The sectors are determined on the basis of turnover data from the Tax Administration for June–October 2019 and 2020.

A business can apply for business cost support even if the turnover in its sector has not fallen by at least 10% and the sector therefore is not included in the Annex to the Government Decree on Support for Business Costs. In such a case, the company must present particularly compelling evidence that the decrease in turnover has been due to the coronavirus crisis.

Business cost support also covers foundations and associations engaged in business activities. Support may not be granted for business activities in primary agricultural production, fisheries and aquaculture.

State Treasury: Sectors
State Treasury: Frequently asked questions about business cost support
Press release: Amendments to the Act on Support for Business Costs to enter into force soon – Application round for coronavirus-hit businesses to start before Christmas
Press release: Companies in all sectors can apply for business cost support if their turnover has decreased due to COVID-19

Loans and guarantees

Contact your bank or finance provider

If your business is temporarily in financial difficulty, you should take early action by first contacting your bank or other business finance provider.

The banks have already announced they are ready to consider loan repayment holidays and payment rescheduling due to the exceptional situation caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The Government is also taking action to improve the ability of banks to provide business financing.

Finnvera offers guarantees and loan repayment holidays

Finnvera is a state-owned company that provides specialised financing. It primarily offers various guarantees as security for business finance provided by banks. All types of companies are eligible for Finnvera's financing. Associations and non-profit foundations are not eligible, however. 

If your business has a loan from Finnvera, Finnvera can grant loan repayment holidays on a flexible basis according to your needs.

Finnvera also grants guarantees on new loans. In such cases, you should first contact your own bank, as the bank will apply for a guarantee on behalf of your business. A Finnvera guarantee can cover 80 per cent of a bank loan if your business is entered in the Trade Register. Finnvera guarantees cannot be granted if you are self-employed but do not have your own company (‘kevytyrittäjä’, literally ‘light self-employed’), or if you work directly through a tax card, for example as a freelancer.

The guarantees are not a form of direct financial support. Finnvera charges a fee for its guarantees, and it uses these fees to cover its share of the credit losses that can occur when guarantees are given as security for loans. Guarantees of up to EUR 1 million are granted mainly without any security requirements. The fee charged depends on, for example, the loan period and the risk classification, which is based on the applicant company’s financial statements data. The charges made must also comply with EU regulations and the rules on government support. Finnvera is not permitted to compete with banks over financing charges.

More information on Finnvera’s website 

Apply for Business Finland’s RDI loans

Business Finland has introduced a new research, development and innovation loan (RDI loan). This will be available to limited companies of all sizes (limited liability companies and public limited companies) and in all sectors.

The loan is intended for all companies operating in labour-intensive sectors in Finland that are suffering from business disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. The purpose of this loan finance is to help companies keep their employees in work during the crisis and also to encourage companies to explore opportunities for providing new jobs in Finland after the crisis is over.

More information on Business Finland’s website 

Capital financing

Be part of Tesi’s funding programme

Tesi (Finnish Industry Investment Ltd) is a state-owned investment company specialising in the venture capital and private equity market. It is launching a funding programme to ensure that medium-sized companies that have run into temporary difficulties due to the coronavirus epidemic will be able to stay in business. Dealing with medium-sized companies, the programme will focus on businesses that are highly important in Finland in terms of their employment impact and turnover (turnover of at least EUR 10 million, more than 50 employees, profitable business operations before the crisis and potential for this in the future too). The investments will vary between EUR 1 million and EUR 10 million. The Tesi programme covers limited liability companies and public limited companies.

The aim is to prevent viable businesses going bankrupt as a consequence of a highly exceptional crisis that has had nothing to do with their operations. Tesi’s stabilisation programme will invest in businesses that are in a good position to overcome the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus epidemic but require additional funding. This programme to deal with the liquidity problems faced by businesses complements the follow-on funding that Tesi announced earlier.

Investments to be made from this temporary programme offer a faster track to helping businesses cope with their liquidity crisis. Applications for this stabilisation funding will be taken on the Tesi website from Tuesday 14 April 2020. At the same time Tesi will also publish further details about the programme and the funding application process.

More information on Tesi website 

Apply to Tesi’s Venture Bridge programme

Through its Venture Bridge programme, Finnish Industry Investment (Tesi) invests in technology companies looking for international growth that have previously raised at least seed financing from professional venture capital investors and that have had to postpone their next external financing round due to the coronavirus situation. Tesi will make the investments together and on equal terms with professional venture capital investors. The investments are made as convertible loans, which will be converted to equity in the next investment round. In this manner, the investments can be made quicker than in equity investments. Tesi’s Venture Bridge investments will be EUR 0.25–2 million in size and private investors will invest at least the same amount of capital in the company.

The Venture Bridge programme will supplement Tesi’s direct venture capital investments and will temporarily expand Tesi’s investment focus to early-stage venture capital financing. In addition to the Venture Bridge programme, Tesi will increase its investment volume for larger, later-stage venture capital financing rounds by, for example, utilising EFSI, its joint investment programme with the European Investment Bank.

More information on Tesi website

Unemployment benefit to be available to entrepreneurs and self-employed

Entrepreneurs are temporarily entitled to labour market support to deal with the sudden and unforeseen decline in demand due to the coronavirus epidemic. This solution applies to all entrepreneurs regardless of the type of business.

Labour market support may be paid for the period of 16 March 2020 –31 March 2021 on the basis of a temporary provision due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the end of that period, an entrepreneur must meet the usual conditions to be entitled to the unemployment security of entrepreneurs. For example, a decline in the workload or income of a full-time entrepreneur alone does not normally entitle the entrepreneur to unemployment benefit.

Questions and answers on entrepreneurs’ right to social security

Support by sector

Temporary support for rural enterprises and agriculture for financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic

Temporary support for rural enterprises and agriculture helps companies whose financial situation has deteriorated due to market and production disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This form of support is intended to help companies adapt to the emergency conditions caused by the COVID-19 crisis and to continue profitable operations, and to secure jobs in the transition towards normal conditions.

More information on how to apply for support on the Finnish Food Authority website (in Finnish)

Flexibility in the company's activities

Supporting businesses in their tax affairs

Entrepreneurs and self-employed persons and businesses in general, and their accountants too, may encounter difficulties in managing tax affairs as a result of the coronavirus situation. In cases of illness, for example, you can ask the Tax Administration for extra time to file your business’s tax return, and the charge for a late VAT return can be waived if there are justified special reasons for doing so.

If your business is in financial difficulty, you can request a rearrangement of your tax payments under new, more suitable terms. Note that you can also apply for changes to your tax prepayments in the Tax Administration’s ‘MyTax’ service if it looks like your business’s performance will fall short of the estimates made earlier.

More information and services on the Tax Administration's website