Economic empowerment for indigenous people

An INDIGEE 2 project has helped to establish and develop enterprises within the Sámi community in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and north-west Russia.

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Celebrating Sami culture through sustainable business practices  © LM Utsi Celebrating Sami culture through sustainable business practices © LM Utsi

" As much of Sámi culture is managed through enterprises, it is important for the Sámi community to increase their knowledge of entrepreneurship. INDIGEE 2 has contributed to this through various activities including information seminars, publications and via project participants themselves. Most participants come from small communities, and the local effect of their increased business competence has been relatively large. "

Lars Miguel Utsi, Project leader, Svenska Samernas Riksförbund, Sweden

The key to success of the INDIGEE 2 project has been its focus on providing the Sámi community – who live in the far north of Europe – with the knowledge and tools to achieve economic independence themselves, in a manner that protects their unique way of life.

An immediate impact

INDIGEE 2 welcomed 48 participants from Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Murmansk Region in Russia. Success has been impressive, with the project resulting in the establishment of four new enterprises and four new jobs to date.

A total of six enterprises reported an increase in profit, while 13 new products and five new services were launched during the project’s lifetime. A further 30 products and services will be launched for sale within a year as a direct result of INDIGEE 2.

New opportunities

INDIGEE 2 was spread out over four countries, and operated in a number of languages and across a wide range of business fields. Business advisors worked with entrepreneurs to identify opportunities and develop strategies.

Norwegian participant Odd-Levi Paulsen, for example, joined INDIGEE 2 in order to create new opportunities for his company Julev Film, which produces documentaries that focus on Sámi stories and language. The experience has enabled Paulsen to expand his business.

Similarly, Maksim Vasiliev and Andrey Dubovtsev joined INDIGEE 2 with the ambition of developing their reindeer herding enterprise in the Murmansk Region of Russia, while Elle Valkeapää from Aanaar in northern Finland was one of 16 participants who joined INDIGEE 2 in order to develop her traditional Sámi handicraft businesses.

Sustainable development

Industrial development and the exploitation of natural resources in the Barents region are having an impact on indigenous ways of living, which will likely have an impact on future generations.

The INDIGEE 2 project sought to help young people in the region identify opportunities to achieve sustainable economic independence through entrepreneurship. Traditional livelihoods such as handicraft, reindeer herding, hunting and fishing were targeted, as were newer opportunities such as tourism, modern design, arts and information technology.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “INDIGEE 2 – Indigenous Entrepreneurship” is EUR 1 162 999, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 315 909 from the Operational Programme “North” (A Nord, Sápmi priority axis) for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

19/08/2015