Esteemed gala guests of honor, fellow members of the Finnish Business Angels Network, spouses, and other attendees of our awaited annual Angel Gala!

Tonight, as we gather under the shimmering lights of Kulttuurikasarmi to our Gala, I am reminded of the humble beginnings from which many of us come. It brings to mind my own journey, from a working-class suburb in Perkkaa, Leppävaara, where the dreams of entrepreneurship and investing seemed as distant as the stars we gaze upon tonight.

Born to a ministry official and an elementary school teacher, my childhood was rich in love but not in the tales of business ventures or investing. There was no groundwork laid at home for the path I would eventually choose, in becoming a law firm partner, angel investor and founder in my own companies. Money was not talked about at our home. 

Yet, here I stand before you, a testament to the belief that from any background and at any age, one can embark on the journey of entrepreneurship and business angel investing. Recently, even Helsingin Sanomat featured our family story in an article focused on generational themes, interviewing both my father and me a month ago about my journey and how it differs from what my father had assumed and hoped for.

Our network here today is living proof of the fact that our backgrounds don’t define us, with FiBAN members as young as just above 20 years, and with the wisdom of those of our members born all the way in the 1940s. Our diversity is our strength.

This narrative of a modest background is not unique to me. Many of us here tonight embarked on this journey not because the path was laid out for us, but because we chose to pave it ourselves. We come from different pasts, but we share a common future. A future where the past does not dictate our capacity to dream, to invest, and to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

The essence of angel investing extends beyond the financial gains. It’s a commitment to giving back, to laying the foundations upon which others can build their dreams. It’s about mentorship, about sharing the hard-earned wisdom that comes from our successes and our failures. I have had my share of failures already as an angel investor.

In this room tonight, in addition to giving back, I believe we also carry a sense of patriotism in our hearts. Our investments are not just in businesses; they are in Finland. We are builders of growth, architects of the future, laying down the infrastructures that will help carry our country forward. This is not merely a matter of financial investment but an investment in our homeland.

Our late founder and first chair of the FiBAN board, Juha Kurkinen, understood this deeply. He believed in the power of the FiBAN community to do good for Finland. Juha saw FiBAN not just as a network of investors but as a collective force for positive change. His legacy is a reminder that our work has a meaningful effect, touching lives and communities, driving economic growth.

As we reflect on our journey as business angels and look towards the horizon, let us remember that the essence of our mission goes beyond financial returns. It’s about ensuring that the door is always open for the next generation, regardless of their background or the circumstances from which they come.

Two days ago, I had the privilege and honor of chairing a meeting with former FiBAN board chairs. We spent an afternoon exchanging memories, discussing facts, and brainstorming ideas for our future. Your mentorship this week was truly valuable to me as this year’s chair and a relatively new FiBAN member, having joined in 2020 and I want to express my warm thanks to all of you chairs for our get-together, kindly hosted by Riku Asikainen. 

I want to end my speech by hoping that we can reach out especially to all the young people, dreaming from their homes in suburbs, cities, and countryside, to know this: your background does not define your future. Now, probably more than every in the history of humankind, building influential new businesses can be done also with small resources. 

In closing, I extend my gratitude to each of you angels here for your commitment, your passion, and your belief in the transformative power of angel investing. I feel very lucky to be able to stand here and be a part of this community, trying to do my best in leaving FiBAN in an even better shape for the person who will continue this esteemed position of trust after my turn is over. 

I hereby wish everyone a delightful evening filled with joy, celebration, and the opportunity to build new friendships within our group. You being here, this evening, has a meaning. Thank you.

FiBAN Chair, Elina Koivumäki