Barents Cafe discussed about business opportunities in the Barents region.

Barents Cafe with a guest lecturer President Martti Hahl from Barents Center Finland was organised in the shopping centre "Rajalla" in Tornio 23 March 2011. The main topics focused on the tasks of Barents Center Finland, the differences of Russians and Finns in business making and on the future actors of Russian markets.

Mr Hahl told to the audience that Barents Center Finland is a non profit organization which coordinates activities between cities, counties, communities and businesses, promotes businesses and their exports, helps education and research, has relationships with authorities and organizes match-making for different actors. Mr Hahl reminded the audience that although Russia is very important partner the Barents Region also includes Sweden and Norway. One important aim is to increase the visibility of Finnish actors in Russia, Norway and Sweden.

Mr Hahl also reminded about the importance of cross-cultural awareness: "It is easier to go to Sweden or Norway, if you decide to go to Russia, find background information, make a survey before you go to Russia, make your homework first, do not go alone, find partners and a Russian caretaker. If you want to do business, you need to have contacts from the first meeting at the airport or at the railway station. The ideal phase of relationship-building is making friends with a Russian - friendship opens doors". One should also pay attention to hidden messages: " a text should be read from a Russian perspective by paying attention to the text that has not been written but the message available between the lines, e.g. lack of money in order to establish a project".

Many actors are currently eager to work with Russians. There are more and more Swedish actors who have a good knowledge of the Russian language, culture and business. Norway has a lot of cooperation with Russians in several sector also for example within education. Also German actors are keen on the Russian market, education and cross border education is necessary to be able to do business in Russia.

Mr Hahl emphasized the importance of the modernization programme recently launched in Russia. "The programme comprises 22 points, and it can be regarded as a shopping list including such items as e.g. energy saving, wastewater management, drinking water, forestry, ship-building industry". The most important thing is to have a plan about the financing package " if you cannot provide financing, you are out of business".

The presentation of Mr Hahl was informative and inspiring for the audience which mainly consisted of young students. There were lots of cultural aspects introduced in his presentation, and he also gave good advices about living conditions and every day living in Russia.

Students listening to Mr. Hall's speech.