Coming of Age
Shortly after my 19th birthday, I realized that I would be graduating from university soon with a software engineering degree and would be entering the “real world”. I spent a lot of time thinking about what this “real world” would look like when I graduated and what places would provide the most opportunities for a better future. I have always been very curious about things happening around me and what the world will look like in the next 5, 25, 50 years.
I was slightly sad about some of the events going on in the world around me. Governments that were resistant to change and fighting technological progress. Politicians that were fear mongering, people were picking sides and becoming divisive versus coming together despite differences. Troubling demographic outlooks for developed countries and a global economy of slow growth despite historically low interest rates from central banks.
However, I am an optimist by nature and I remain broadly optimistic about the future so I resolved to find what governments and countries were taking optimistic steps to create a better future.
My research lead me to countries like Botswana, Singapore and Estonia. I’ve written about why I’ve invested in Botswana and today I will talk about why Estonia makes me so excited about the future.
A Government That Knows What It’s Doing
It’s not often a government report leaves you feeling truly impressed, but that is how I felt when I read their blog post on How to open a Company in Estonia from anywhere on Earth, I (metaphorically) got out of my chair and started clapping. This is a country that understands the direction the world is going in.
— Tomiwa ? (@tomiwa1a) October 30, 2017
At a time when many countries are in an us vs. them mentality they have taken steps towards trying to bring in as many people as possible. As a Nigerian-born Canadian citizen that has travelled to America and different parts of Europe, I have witnessed countries on all sides of the openness spectrum and I am convinced that countries that are more open will perform better.
Every country has talked about, had endless meetings on the blockchain buzzword, but how much tangible progress has actually been made. Within X short years …
The president of Estonia is only 48 years old and the Prime Minister of Estonia is only 38. Age alone is not an indication of excellence or good judgement, but it’s a testament to the fact that this is a country that favours merit over cronyism and credentials and a willingness to try new things.
Real Support for Entrepreneurs
Most people know that entrepreneurs and small businesses are necessary for the growth of their economy, and many organizations and governments talk about the importance of “empowering entrepreneurs”. Unfortunately, all that talk does not away translate into tangible actions and small businesses are still left with many hurdles to face. Estonia is doing many practical things to make the lives of entrepreneurs as myself and many others much easier:
The People are Phenomenal
During my Christmas break I took a 4 hour train trip to Ottawa -the capital of Canada- slept on the floor of my cousin’s apartment and braved the -20 degree, 10 cm of snow, Canadian winter to pick up my e-residency. Getting to the Estonian embassy was quite a journey and I wasn’t in the best mood once I got there. On Top of that, when I walked in they were speaking what I thought was very fast Swedish ( which I now know is Estonian (eesti keel) and I was worried we might have trouble communicating.
Yet, my two principle memories from the Estonia embassy was how quick and easy the process was and the kindness of the two ladies working there (really wish I remembered their names). I was fairly skeptical at first (“Wait so all I have to do scan my thumb and that’s it?”) so I asked a lot of questions. Fortunately they communicated very well and were very patient with me. My first experience with Estonians was a very positive experience.
Though, nowadays most human experiences also happen online. I have been an observer of “Estonian Twitter” and it is generally one of the most positive Twitter subcultures which I have seen. The people are very helpful and upbeat, even the occasional debate or disagreement is handled in a constructive manner. Despite the fact that we live 7 hours apart, sometimes I do feel like we are next door neighbours; due to our shared values, love of technology and hope for a better future.
The Future of Estonia is Bright
Estonia is only 100 years old and they actually just left the Soviet Union only 27 years ago. Yet in that short period of time: The e-residency program has soared from 1,000 e-residents in 2014 to over 35,000 residents today. Their (our) story is still being written and their knowledge seems to compound and they get better every day. I am glad to be a resident of this wonderful country and I can’t wait to see what lies in our bright future.
(Update) Appendix: How to Become an Estonian E-Resident
Here is the article I used when I got my e-Residency, I found it to be very helpful:
Here is the summary:
- Read more from the official e-Residency website at https://e-resident.gov.ee/.
- Go to https://apply.gov.ee. There, you’ll find an online application form. You’ll need to upload your photos, describe your purpose for applying, and pay the 100 euro e-Residency state fee.
- Once your application has been submitted, you’ll need to wait about 10 business days for the background check to be completed.
- After you verify your identity at the pickup location, you’ll get an e-Resident starter kit which contains your digital ID card and a smart card reader.