Around the world in 7 days: e-Residency Week 2019

E-Residency celebrates 5th birthday with global, week-long celebrations

22 cities, 1000+ emails to organise the events, 800 participants, 250 e-residents, 75 e-resident companies, 80+ presentations and keynote speeches, dozens of flights (and only four delayed or cancelled), three birthday cakes, two awards, and one team member’s birthday.

Add to these countless e-resident community and business connections forged, and best of all… lots of fun! This just about sums up the priceless e-Residency Week 2019.

Between 24 November and 1 December 2019, the e-Residency team travelled around the world to join e-residents, partners, Estonian embassy and consulate representatives, and other stakeholders to celebrate the 5th anniversary of e-Residency. Celebrations took place in over 20 locations from New York to Budapest, Istanbul to Seoul, and many places in between.

I had a busy week travelling to events in Dubai, London, Berlin, and ending in Tallinn. It was wonderful to meet an interesting cross-section of e-residents and other stakeholders and to represent e-Residency and Estonia across these locations. A filmmaker travelled with me to capture my journey and my battle with jet lag. Watch this video to see how I survived!

At each e-Residency week event, participants heard keynote speeches from local Estonian Ambassadors as well as presentations by a representative of the e-Residency team, a service provider, and one or more e-residents. Tomorrow, I will publish a summary of the presentation made by the e-Residency team at these events for the benefit of those of you who were unable to make it to an event. In this way, we hope to involve the whole community in this important milestone for e-Residency and fill you in on the story so far and give insights on what’s to come.

By all accounts, the week was a resounding success and provided time and space to the many people involved in making e-Residency what it is today to reflect on and celebrate the program’s achievements over the last five years.

The e-Residency team was happy to meet e-residents from around the world; and even hear some of them say in perfect Estonian:

Mina olen Eesti e-Resident” (I am an Estonian e-resident)

The breadth of e-Residency week locations revealed the fantastic diversity of e-residents, from service-focused small businesses to digital nomads, freelancers, and e-commerce entrepreneurs, working in diverse sectors including the creative industries, technology, cosmetics, travel, consulting, and education. We’ll be introducing some fascinating e-residents here on the blog in the coming months, so stay tuned for their inspiring stories.

Thank you e-Residency for helping me find a balance in my life as both a freelancer and an artist

an e-resident at the Berlin event

E-Residency week culminated in a special gala event in Tallinn to give thanks to Estonian politicians and business-people who have been involved in the program since the beginning and have supported its development and success. Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economic and Social Affairs, Enterprise Estonia, Ministry of Interior, and Police and Border Guard attended the event along with prominent Estonian business-people, e-Residency partners, and the media.

At the event, attendees heard how important the e-Residency program is for Estonia both nationally and internationally in a keynote speech from Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid:

“E-residents have decided that they want to breathe more easily, get rid of the paperwork and bureaucracy, and join us here in the digital nation. A lot has been done and something completely unique has been created.”

President Kersti Kaljulaid speaking at the gala event in Tallinn. Photo: Raul Mee

In my speech, I reflected on the fact that without strong cooperation both within Estonia and among e-residents, the success of the program would not have been possible:

Managing Director Ott Vatter speaking at the gala event in Tallinn. Photo: Raul Mee

“E-Residency is a successful national program that not only promotes the economy but also adds to its soft power and security. Other countries learn from us and will start similar programs, but they will never be the first”.

Turkish tourism entrepreneur and e-resident Arzu Altinay also spoke about her experience with the e-Residency program, which she said has been a miracle for her business and positive from the start:

E-resident Arzu Altinay speaking at the gala event in Tallinn. Photo: Raul Mee

“Without e-Residency, my company would still be a small company in Istanbul and looking for a way to do global business. Today, we are able to manage our clients and businesses in multiple different cities across Europe”.

During its birthday week, e-Residency was also honoured to accept two awards.

In London, Estonia was recognised as the “Master of Reinvention” at the annual London Business School Real Innovation Awards — this is the first time ever a country has received this award and it was a great honour to be able to accept this award on behalf of my country.

E-Residency was also named as the 2019 National Winner with a “Special Mention” of the award ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ at the European Promotion Awards in Helsinki, which coincided with e-Residency week.

Thank you for being a part of the e-Residency journey

E-Residency Week 2019 was not only fun and successful. It also provided a great opportunity to celebrate and thank everyone involved in the success of this program and community.

Firstly, I want to thank my team at e-Residency. We are an enthusiastic, dedicated group of about 20 passionate individuals working for both e-residents and Estonians. Day to day, our team supports e-residents with growing their businesses, communicates news and information, and works with government and business to develop the program for the benefit of Estonia and Estonian e-residents.

Photos taken by the team at various e-Residency week events

But the e-Residency team is only a small representation of who works for the program. E-Residency has involved a whole of government effort to give access to e-Estonia to the world. The Estonian Government and various ministries, departments, embassies, and consulates around the world give a lot of time and care to make the program work technically and to help solve problems and challenges along the way. I also want to thank them for their valuable contributions to this one-of-a-kind national and international project.

And while it has taken a country to implement this unique program, it has been the diverse, inclusive, and supportive community of e-residents that has truly made it what it is today. As one participant at e-Residency week enthusiastically proclaimed:

“How cool is it that a community of people from around the world are so excited about services provided by … a Government! And are even enthusiastic about online taxes!”

So from us here in e-Residency team to the Estonian government, e-residents, and all other partners and stakeholders — a big thank you!

This is a community to celebrate!

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