Editor’s Note: Provided below are extracts from two informational articles that highlight the digitally advanced nation of Estonia and how its digital advancement has enabled entrepreneurs throughout the world to have access to EU markets based on its e-Residency program.
Think Outside the Borders: How Estonia is using e-Residency to Support Location Independent Entrepreneurs
Extract from an article from the Republic of Estonia (The New York Times)
“We are the first digital society in the world that has its own state,” says Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid. While the story of this heavily forested North European land may date back thousands of years, today Estonians are known for building the world’s most digitally advanced nation as well as producing a staggering number of globally successful companies. These include four “unicorn” digital start-ups valued at over $1 billion: Skype, TransferWise, Taxify and Playtech.
This year, Estonians are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of their Republic in 1918. But for about half that time, the country was occupied, and it was rebuilt almost from scratch in the 1990s after regaining its freedom from the Soviet Union. Unburdened by legacy technology, Estonians entered the internet age with a unique opportunity to build a new kind of country where almost everything can be done entirely online, cost-effectively and fuss-free — a supportive environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive. President Kaljulaid emphasizes that this shift to a digital nation is based not just on new technology, but also on new ways of thinking: “We have succeeded in going digital because we have put people and businesses, their need for rapid data exchange and identity verification, at the center of change.”
In 2014, Estonians asked: If their country could serve citizens and residents entirely online, why not open up their digital borders to more people? This new population wouldn’t need citizenship or physical residency, but would still be issued an Estonian digital ID card, enabling them to operate within Estonia’s digital business environment without physically being in the country. This would allow more people to establish and manage an E.U. company entirely online, helping democratize entrepreneurship globally.
Anyone can apply for e-Residency online, regardless of citizenship or location. Applicants undergo background checks by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and, if approved, are invited to pick up an e-Residency starter kit containing a digital ID card and PIN codes used for online authentication and digital signatures.
The benefits? Many expats and digital nomads like e-Residency because they can run their businesses entirely online in English, from anywhere they are. Others appreciate being able to run an E.U. company with lower costs and less hassle. This includes a significant number of entrepreneurs already living in E.U. countries where business costs and barriers can be much higher. Finally, many use e-Residency because it’s trusted and can make doing business globally easier. Thanks to Estonia’s digitized business environment, anyone can look up who owns a company established by an e-resident and how it has paid taxes, a transparency valued by location-independent entrepreneurs. They can access the E.U. market, connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and use e-services unavailable to companies registered locally, such as payment providers.
The success of the e-Residency program rests on its being a national initiative, in which state organizations work closely together to serve e-residents and ensure their compliance with the rules. The private sector, both inside and outside Estonia, adds more value by offering products and services to the growing e-resident market.
Here’s How You Can Create an EU Company with EU Banking (Anywhere on Earth)
Extract from an article by Adam Rang, Chief Evangelist at e-Residency (Medium)
Location, location, location.
Those are arguably the three most important factors that determine your chances of succeeding as an entrepreneur right now.
Your location affects the costs and hassle of starting and running a company, as well as your access to customers and vital things you need to acquire them such as talent, funding, trust, legal frameworks, and financial services (like a PayPal business account).
You could move to a different location to give yourself a better chance of succeeding, but what if you can’t… or just don’t want to? And what if you don’t want the costs and constraints of a fixed location at all?
Thanks to the internet, we now have the technology to connect and conduct business globally like never before. Unfortunately, our new digital world has new digital borders too. That means your ability to start and grow a company online is still restricted based on your offline location.
That’s now changed. Estonia is the first digital borderless nation and believes no business should be bound by physical location.