It is becoming is increasingly common for people in Sweden to go into business for themselves, with figures from Statistics Sweden showing a 15 percent increase in the number of sole-proprietorship businesses since 2004, Sveriges Television (SVT) reported.
The trend also appears to be increasing in popularity among foreign-born women, with a 47 percent growth since 2004 in the number of women born outside of Sweden who have chosen to be their own boss.
Many of these women have found it too tough to crack into the Swedish job market through permanent employment and have instead decided on to go into business for themselves.
One of the primary reasons behind the trend, according to SVT, are the difficulties employers have in evaluating foreign university degrees.
Consequently, people choose to register themselves as “F-Skatt” payers and become self-employed.
F-Skatt is a tax certificate needed by self-employed people in Sweden, meaning that they pay their own taxes and social insurance fees every month.
Yulia Semenova is an example of someone who entered the Swedish job market with a double degree from back home, yet had no better option than joining the Swedish workforce as a cleaner in a hotel.
“I wanted to get a job in the field I was educated in and I never got the possibility as an employee,” she told SVT.
Now, she works as a self-employed guide for Russian tourists, and claims that the job she made for herself offers a whole lot more.
“I’m not just a guide. I have an administrative job, and I exhibit at trade shows and workshops – everything that I can possibly do. And at the same time, I create new assignments,” she said.
However, there are certain drawbacks running a company where the owner is the only employee.
One third of all income must be paid to social contributions. There is no paid holiday, sick pay, or pension plan.
“For most people it is economically much worse to be self-employed. One must be aware that you’re take all the risks yourself and you’re not as secure as an employee,” Gunilla Backlund, ombudsman at the Unionen labour union, told SVT.
There are 208,057 people in Sweden registered as “self-employed”, that is, having “zero employees”.
Overall, 862,094 people have registered F-Skatt certificates.