Sami entrepreneurship without borders

Vitaly Kocherin (left), Satu Maarit Natunen and Reidar Solberg team up to boost Sami entrepreneurship. Photo: Morten Brugård

Vitaly Kocherin, Satu Maarit Natunen and Reidar Solberg come from three different countries in Sápmi and by sharing experiences hope to boost their businesses.


“I see new markets by cooperating across the national borders in the north. For us in Sápmi, there were no borders in the ancient times. Today, we should take advantage of being one people living in different nations and develop businesses together,” says Satu Maarit Natunen.

She lives in northern Finland and met with Vitaly Kocherin from the Kovdor region on Russia’s Kola Peninsula and Reidar Solberg from Finnmark in northern Norway. BarentsObserver met the three entrepreneurs at the Sápmi centre in Inari. Sapmi is the native name of the Sami areas in the Barents Region. 

Satu Maarit Natunen believes networking among Sami entrepreneurs is essential for increasing her business. She runs several shops selling duodji – the Sami handicraft and design. She believes cooperating with other Sami entrepreneurs could increase profits for all parties.

Vitaly Kocherin lives in the Kovdor region on the Russian side of the border near Finnish Lapland where he combines reindeer herding with tourism.

“For me it is of great help to meet with people with similar background and knowledge. I can’t wait to go back home to implement and experiment with some of the tips I have got here in Inari”, Vitaly Kocherin says.

Also Reidar Solberg from Norway underlines the unique business projects that can be developed jointly by Sami in the Barents Region. Reidar is engaged in both tourism and meat processing and believes his personal experience is a key to providing a special product to visiting tourists in the north.  

The Sami entrepreneurship program will continue aiding knowledge flow within the Sami community until the end of 2013.