Permits and authorisations, a mountain of applications and a language barrier too. These are just some of the difficulties you face when starting a business abroad. Luckily, an advice centre opened in Bremen in early 2015 that can help you through the jungle: Bremeninvest’s welcome service.
Manuel Kühn, Bremeninvest’s project manager for the welcome service, knows from personal experience how it feels to have to battle with red tape in a foreign country: “I spent one year studying in Japan and one year working in Thailand. So I know what the entrepreneurs and skilled workers who we deal with are going through.” Since February 2015 Kühn has been the face of the Bremeninvest welcome service. Part of this job involves checking and consolidating applications and forwarding them to the relevant authorities. The service is free of charge and available in German, English, Turkish and Russian. The welcome service isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, however. It aims to take existing approaches and initiatives for improving how people are welcomed to Bremen, to build on these and to integrate them more closely.
Kühn first began to develop today’s concept in June 2014 after politicians and the business community had expressed a desire to improve the welcome that Bremen offers. The welcome service was launched just half a year later. It was initiated by the Bremen Chamber of Commerce together with Bremeninvest, RKW Bremen, the IQ network Bremen, the Regional Minister for Internal Affairs and Sport and the Regional Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour and Ports. “The quick launch was a good decision. We adapted our offering to the demand and managed to create an efficient system that was able to leverage synergies with the Unternehmensservice Bremen business support agency,” explains Kühn.
The two services work side by side, almost literally in fact. They are both based in Bremen’s Chamber of Commerce building in the city centre and both call on the expertise and experience of the people who work there. The welcome service also works closely with the Bremeninvest team on international relocations. If Chinese companies that are already based in Bremen want to employ Chinese workers, for example, and need help with this, they will be referred directly to Manuel Kühn.
We have many more enquiries than expected.
Manuel Kühn, Bremeninvest project manager
Demand for the welcome service has been strong so far. “Around half the people we advise are business founders from outside Germany,” says Manuel Kühn. “The other half are skilled workers from other countries and the local companies that want to employ them.” The advice provided by the welcome service focuses mainly on residency, recognition of qualifications and work permits. Most start-up entrepreneurs want to find out about residency and the process of launching a business. Skilled workers and companies, meanwhile, are more interested in how to get qualifications recognised and how to obtain work permits.
Manuel Kühn is certain of one thing: “Companies are faced with the reality of a shortage of skilled workers each and every day. So we don’t need to teach them about a welcoming culture. Instead, we need to give them the tools that will help them to recruit foreign workers.” Going forward, the welcome service would like to reach out to more SMEs. So Manuel Kühn believes he will remain busy for a long time to come.
To find out more about the welcome service, contact Manuel Kühn, tel. +49 (0)421 163 399 477, Manuel.Kuehn@wfb-bremen.de.
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