Estonian E-residency: A Gateway to the World for Emerging Market Entrepreneurs: A Case Study Based on Indian E-resident Founders

Marten Jurgen Vürst

Student thesis: Master thesis


In 2014, Estonia launched e-residency – a unique concept of a digital identity. Even though this identity does not give possessors equal rights with physical residents, it allows holders to access a variety of public services online. Among these is the possibility to establish and run an Estonian company 100% remotely. This means that anyone from anywhere in the world can establish a legitimate EU company over the internet after being granted an e-resident status. Such programme can open doors to the world for those that otherwise can find internationalisation complicated. Among those, entrepreneurs and companies from emerging economies. The paper is based on a qualitative case study analysing 10 Indian e-resident companies. The data is complemented with theories like the Uppsala model, the OLI, born global and network approach of internationalisation. The aim of the study is to provide insight into the specific issues that emerging market firms and founders face when running an international business. Then, it will be explored how the Estonian e-residency can help them during their internationalisation process. This will provide an overview of the benefits that can be obtained through e-residency and potentially help entrepreneurs from emerging markets in their decision-making process. Later, it will be analysed how e-residency aligns with the traditional internationalisation theories and whether the emerging market e-resident companies tend to follow similar patterns. The research showed a clear presence of different struggles for Indian companies and entrepreneurs. These include among other things an undeveloped business culture, negative perceptions and low trust, bureaucracy, time- and resource-consuming compliance work, poor service quality and responsiveness by the authorities, lack of access to multicurrency accounts and to modern financial service providers. The Estonian e-residency was found to be able to eliminate or mitigate a number of the problems, while being easily accessible for emerging market entrepreneurs and providing additional perks like access to EU market. The sample companies aligned best with the characteristics of born global companies, but at the same time e-residency itself does not restrict e-resident companies to follow different patterns.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages80
SupervisorsAradhna Aggarwal