In today’s episode, Petra talks with Pukhraj Ranjan. Pukhraj is the founder and CEO of “Moi Namaste”, a Finnish e-commerce business that connects the Nordics with exquisite Indian craftsmanship.
Pukhraj landed in Finland a few years ago, when she decided to pursue her Master’s degree at the University of Jyväskylä. Before coming to Finland, she used to work as a development advocate and educator. After being in the field of education for 5 years she decided to study education and so she ended up enrolling in the Master’s degree program in educational leadership. That program was the sole one she applied to due to the reputation Jyväskylä has in the field of education.
Asked if she would recommend foreigners to come and study in Finland, she answers:
“Absolutely, and I talk to a lot of young people who want to move to Finland to pursue their higher education and I highly recommend it. For me it was a highly interesting experience because in India it is very important to go to a university that is very highly ranked. [..] What I absolutely loved about studying in Jyväskylä was the kind of freedom I got to pursue, the subject matters, I was really passionate about it and I saw a stark difference between that and the 6 months I spent in London. I went to the University College of London, Institute of Education, which is considered one of the top universities to go to if you pursue education degrees, and I just personally felt really pressured in the UK, whereas in Finland I felt like I really had the time to go deep and really study a topic that was of interest to me. [...] You get an opportunity to design your own education, which is for me the best way to study anything, so yeah, I highly recommend it.".
Networking, which is a crucial part for foreigners in Finland, was almost a cakewalk for Pukhraj in terms of the transition from university life to work life. Through her participation in student unions like AIESEC and conferences like the UNESCO conference, she had the chance to connect with various educators from around the world. She adds that working at the executive board of the student union for a year was a great way to understand the Finnish working environment and culture. Having managed to expand her network through extracurricular activities, Pukhraj had the chance to work for the educational organization “HundrED” as a community manager and head of communications for 3 years. Once she realized that she has offered and learned a lot about the educational field overall, she realized that she would like to make a career change and start her own business in Finland.
At first, the Finnish language for Pukhraj wasn’t a must-do in her bucket list, as her initial goal was to complete her studies in Finland and get back to India. However, having met her now-husband during the final semester of her studies, she is feeling nowadays that she needs to learn the language. “One thing that is cool about Finland is the adult education model”, she says, as Pukhraj has joined the adult high school nowadays, which also signifies the restart of her journey in this country, according to her.
Nowadays, Pukhraj is running an ethical homeware and apparel brand, “Moi Namaste”. Having lived for quite a few years in Finland, she felt that she would like to boost the representation of the Indian culture in Finland. After having done her research regarding the female craftsmanship in India overall and the financial inequity in this field, she got bothered by the latter and decided to start along with some of her friends-artisans living in India this kind of business.
Pukhraj highlights that it is not always an easy journey, that of establishing your own business, although it was easier for her specifically, as she is married to a Finnish person. An interesting aspect of entrepreneurship among internationals in Finland is the “startup visa” program that has been launched by the Finnish government nowadays, which helps foreigners establish their startup business, once they have a business plan ready. Free consulting and free coaching offered by the state and the city is a very useful part of the process, according to Pukhraj. Asked about tips she would share with people thinking of starting their own business here - something that can feel like a lonely venture at times - she replies:
“Actively start looking for people, because, in the beginning, you might have a lot of drive, you have just started, but it’s a lot of work, it’s good to find people who can support you.”
The plans of the “Moi Namaste”, which is a “slow” and conscious business, according to Pukhra, are to grow slowly and consciously respectively and to let people know about India, the beautiful Indian craftsmanship and the amazing Indian women. “We want to impact more and more women artisans but also as a business in Finland we want to grow a customer base and be able to share these beautiful things with more people not just in Finland but hopefully in Nordics”.
Lastly, Pukhraj informs us about the Mindful Moments Pop Up Week, which is a consciousness week taking place in mid-November. During that period a bunch of events are organized, such as yoga, mandala workshops, with the purpose of giving the opportunity to the community to come together and just relax before the Christmas frenzy begins. You can check the week's events here: https://fb.me/e/5ThUSlBRb