Growth in expat small business

Bookmark and Share

EXPATRIATE MUSINGS

An occasional column
by Phillip M Louis,
an American living and working in Oslo

Is it a new craze or are Americans and other nationalities finding the right opportunities to follow their dreams?

Over the last few months, I have noticed that my social network has grown by meeting new expatriates who also have recently landed or been in Norway for years. In addition, many of these expatriates have successfully managed to open their own businesses and are doing quite well.

You will find professional consultants, business developers, restaurant owners, musicians, artists, various merchants and the list goes on. It is exciting to see that not only have my fellow Americans replanted their roots, but they have also managed to find a niche in the local market to launch and sustain their concepts, while supporting the local economy.

Americans aren’t the only ones – there’s also strong representation from Turkey, Pakistan and Spain, for example. All doing well in their own regards, often within the import and export of goods and services.

There’s no question that Norway’s economy held up well during the worst of the global finance crisis. While GNP slipped for the first time in a long time last year, unemployment has been less than 3 percent, inflation is miniscule and interest rates remain at record lows.

B2B Marketplace shared: The major fall in international activity appears to have ended, and the activity in the Norwegian economy is continuing to grow. Powerful policy measures in Norway and abroad are contributing to the growth. The repercussions of the financial crisis mean that unemployment is expected to rise, though, well into next year.

Another recent release from Norway’s statistics bureau SSB indicates wide variations within manufacturing. Norwegian industrial managers report  mixed development, with some sectors experiencing an increase in demand due to higher consumption, while others are suffering the consequences of a lack of new orders for ships, boats and oil platforms.

At the end of the day, it’s all about you, driving your passion to do what you love. This isn’t an earnest plea to “jump right in” – yet it is awareness that opportunity is everywhere in the world and the American dream is still alive. Immigrants and expatriates often are among the last to get hired by local employers, so plunging into the world of sole-proprietorship is often the best, or even only, option.

Some of the greatest tools and resources you can find are at the City of Oslo’s Agency for Business Development Services (Næringsetaten) (http://www.nae.oslo.kommune.no/). The helpful staff there holds sessions throughout the month to assist individuals who would like to journey down the business path. The sessions are very informative and they share all the detail required to meet and exceed the requirements to successfully launch a business in Norway. Not to mention the staff is very friendly. It is worth an afternoon visit – and they offer a website and presentation in English.

This is yet another opportunity to share information and again to encourage getting out in the community and meeting other expats and locals who are planted in Norway. The network is vast and the opportunities endless.

You may have a similar story. Please share your experience.

Phillip Louis works for Gjensidige in Oslo and has been living in Norway since early 2008.