FAQ


1. What is the classification of the target countries?   
2. What kind of projects are supported by Business Partnership Support Facility?   
3. Does Business Partnership Support cover expenses related to export projects?   
4. What kind of import projects are supported?   
5. What is meant by a project piloting technology or solutions?    
6. Does Business Partnership Support cover expenses related to educational or training projects?   
7. What information about the applicant company and the project are public?   
8. What are the expenses covered by Business Partnership Support?   
9. What are acceptable travel costs?   
10. To what extent are external expert fees acceptable expenses?   
11. To what extent are an applicant's internal labour expenses acceptable?   
12. What expenses can be covered in an import project?   
13. What costs are not considered as acceptable expenses?   
14. When is the application registered, and what is the registration number?   
15. When can an application be submitted?    
16. How long does it take to receive a decision on the support?   
17. For how long is the support valid and available for the applicant?   
18. When may the support funds be drawn?   
19. What are the reporting requirements associated with the support?   


1. What is the division of the project countries?
Finnpartnership’s classification of developing countries, as basis for the expense coverage amount of the Business Partnership Support, is based on OECD’s Development Assistance Committee´s (DAC) classification. The three least developed country classifications in the DAC List are grouped together as “low income developing countries” and the “upper middle income developing countries” are considered as a separate group. Currently, the following list is in use: DAC List of ODA Recipients Effective for reporting on 2014, 2015 and 2016 flows). A lower coverage amount is applied if the project targets both upper middle income and low income developing countries.

2. What kind of projects are supported by the Business Partnership Support Facility?
The Business Partnership Support covers a part of approved project expenses during the set-up phase of long-term, commercially viable projects. Expenses related to the project establishment and actual commencing of operations are not considered as acceptable set-up phase expenses. Moreover, it does not cover e.g. equipment or other investments, nor technical or other general product development expenses.

The support can also be applied for projects that are already on-going. Then, training of the employees in the target developing country, and developing a specific business area of a project, is supported if they support business partnership creation and continuity. Support can only be granted for expenses that have accrued after the registration date.

3. Does Business Partnership Support cover expenses related to export projects?
Business Partnership Support does not cover expenses associated with exporting (e.g. locating an agent or a distributor for a Finnish exporter). Certain phases of export projects can be supported when they involve long-term commercial cooperation with a company or an organisation in developing countries, and transfer of technology/know-how, for example in the case of long-term operation and maintenance contracts between Finnish and developing country actors. Support can be granted to cover expenses, for example, in the partner identification phase or for the training of local staff in projects creating a business partnership.

4. What kind of import projects are supported?
Finnpartnership supports import projects.

When evaluating the eligibility of import projects, special attention is paid to the applicant company´s investment on (vocational) training of the developing country actor, improvement of working conditions, terms of employment and occupational safety of the developing country actor, improvement of the quality of the products and obtaining the auditing of the social and environmental responsibility for local producers. In addition, attention is paid to the project´s effects on strengthening and diversifying the target country's production structures; e.g. a significant expansion of the offered range of goods, an improvement in product quality or degree of processing of goods produced in a developing country, or a contribution to regional diversification. The principle is that the operations that include production from developing country or export to Finland or to the EU are supported.

5. What is meant by piloting technology or solutions?

The support can be granted for a pilot project related to commercialised/merchandised technology or solutions. A pilot project, if successful, must have potential of leading to a business partnership. The support covers planning, employee training and technical assistance costs in pilot projects.

6. Does Business Partnership Support cover expenses related to educational or training projects?
Business Partnership Support covers expenses related to the education or training of a project's local staff (max. 200 working days) when these expenses are related to a specific business partnership project which complies with the general terms and conditions of Business Partnership Support.

In vocational education and training, and support for local education phase, the support is granted for development of vocational education and training related to the business partnership (e.g. renewing curriculum, teacher training, equipment and machinery, repair of facilities) and launching new training. The projects are evaluated based on prerequisities for sustainability of the training structure they support and the expected developmental effects.
In the development of a local educational institution in vocational education and training phase, support can be granted as follows:
  • renewal of curriculum
  • training of teachers
  • teaching equipment
  • repair of facilities
  • other short-term expenses in relation to capacity building of educational institutions


7. What information about the applicant company and the project are public?
Due to the public nature of de minimis aid, the details provided in the application form (e.g. applicant name, sector) and the amount of financial support granted will be public. Project details and e.g. the project country are not public information.

8. What are the expenses covered by the Business Partnership Support?
Business Partnership Support is financial support which is intended to cover a part of a Finnish company's expenses in commercially viable projects in developing countries.

Acceptable expenses, which have incurred during the above mentioned preparatory phases of a project, 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 by the applicant's personnel and external experts during the set-up phase of the project. The acceptable daily allowance is eligible in accordance with the max. amounts provided in the valid State Travel Regulations
  • 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.
Also the following expenses of already operational developing country projects are eligible (max. 100 working days in total):
  • training of the developing country employees´, and
  • utilising experts in developing a specific business area of a project.
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 the commencing of operations in the target country (company registration fees, permit fees etc.) are considered normal operative phase expenses and therefore are not acceptable.

9.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 during foreign travel. Travel expenses are calculated as per cheapest class. Acceptable hotel charges are restricted to the maximum charges approved according to the valid State Travel Regulations. Only the accommodation charge of hotel expenses may be covered by the support (no other service fees such as food, drinks or laundry).

10. To what extent are external expert fees acceptable expenses?
The limit for acceptable expert fees are EUR 520 per day for junior consultants and EUR 910 per day for senior consultants. Actual expert fees may exceed these limits but the expense coverage of the suppot is calculated according to the maximum limits.

External experts may be consultants or interpreter services utilised in connection with feasibility studies, market studies, business plans and social and environmental impact assessments. Also legal fees, for example, in the partner identification phase are acceptable. External experts can also be used for the training of employees or capacity building of the developing country company. Developing country employees are not considered external experts and therefore their working time is not an acceptable expense, because it is seen as company’s normal business operations.

11. To what extent are an applicant's internal labour expenses acceptable?
An applicant may utilise its own internal labour resources for the preparatory phases of a project in the developing country. The expenses may be related e.g. to identifying business partners, pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies, business plan development and the training of the employees in the target country or another country relevant to the project. Only the actual working time of the applicant's employees is eligible (max. € 500 per day, based on the person's regular monthly salary, as detailed in the employment contract).

Working expenses cannot be covered when the company's own employees/owners do not receive a monthly salary (e.g. a newly established business). However travel-, accommodation-, and daily allowance expenses can be covered for the duration of the journey.

When the applicant company employees train the developing country company employees, the working expenses of the applicant company's employees can only be covered for training that takes place in the project country or another relevant country (not for training that takes place 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.

12. What are acceptable expenses in an import project?
For projects which entail importing from a developing country to Finland, acceptable expenses are, in addition to the other defined acceptable expenses, R&D costs as well as research and test fees required by authorities in connection with preparing products for the Finnish and EU markets. Tests and analyses related to project or environmental assessments conducted by external or internal experts, can be covered. Costs associated with improving working conditions, terms of employment and occupational safety are also eligible, as well as costs arising from auditing the social and environmental responsibility of local producers.

13. What costs are not considered as acceptable expenses?
Acceptable expenses do NOT include for example:
  • all 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’ working expenses 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
  • per diem allowances in Finland unless they are linked with travel to the target country
  • per diem allowances of 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 merchandizing 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 the 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 electric 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
  • recruitment expenses
  • start-up costs, agreements, etc.
  • expenses considered to be normal business activities, 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
The establishment of the company is considered operative activity that takes place after the preparatory phase of the project, and expenses related to the establishment of the company (e.g. drafting of partner contracts and set-up documents, registration, launching and work permit expenses) are not acceptable expenses.

14. When is the application registered, and what is its identification number?
Applications are registered when the application and all required attachments are submitted to Finnpartnership. At the time of registration, a registration number is assigned for each project. The suppot covers expenses as of this registration date. Expenses that have incurred before the submittal and registration of the application, are not eligible.

15. When can an application be submitted?
Applications for Business Partnership Support can be submitted continuously throughout the year.

16. How long does it take to receive a decision on the support?
The decision making process consists of a 2 month application period and the processing period of approximately 2 months. For projects, which include support for vocational training and education, and support for local education, the processing period is three months. The application is evaluated by the Support Committee composed of Finnfund's management, after which the applicant is informed of the recommendation of the Support Committee. After this, recommendations made by the Support Committee are forwarded to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, which makes a Discretionary Government Transfer Decision approximately 2 months (3 months for projects including vocational training and education, and support for local education) after the end of the relevant application period.

17. For how long is the support valid and available for the applicant?
The support is valid for 24 months from the date that the applicant has been informed of the Discretionary Government Transfer Decision by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.  However, expenses incurred from the registration date onwards are acceptable.

18. When may the support funds be drawn?
Business Partnership Support covers the expenses detailed in the Support Committee´s recommendation. The approved budget is sent to the applicant together with the recommendation. The Business Partnership Support is valid for 24 months from the date that the applicant has been informed of the decision (Discretionary Government Transfer Decision) by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The receiving entity must request reimbursement with a separate reimbursement request before the due date. The reimbursement request can only be submitted after the approved project expenses have accrued. The support is paid against approved, accrued and paid expenses.

The company must submit a reimbursement request form together with a specification of incurred expenses, an auditor's statement and a check list (signed by the auditor) verifying the authenticity of the incurred expenses. The receiver of the Business Partnership Support can apply for reimbursement in a maximum of two installments. If the receiving entity requests reimbursement in two installments, the final report must be submitted at the time of the first reimbursement request, if the first installment is more than 2/3 of the total amount of support allocated. Even if final report is not required, the request should include a short description of what has been achieved in the project so far, and what the next steps will be. Before reimbursement, it is verified that the possible requirements and recommendations related to the environmental and social impacts of the project have been taken into account.

19. What are the reporting requirements associated with the support?
Along with the reimbursement request, a final report must be submitted. In addition, follow-on reports detailing the progress of the project must be submitted for the two years following reimbursement. Templates for the follow-up reports will be sent by Finnpartnership.