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CBS News: Estonia, the land of love and unicorns, is leading the world in the digital revolution

CBS News explores how Estonia has become a country with unique digital capabilities that allow people more time for what really matters: Estonia is a place that gives you ten times the love that you put in your company.

If you want to learn about a country where tomorrow is already happening today, make sure to watch a short movie produced by CBS News and Global Thought Leaders. The movie reveals the secrets to success of the world’s leading digital nation.

The land of love and unicorns

“The reason why I decided to stay in Estonia and do business here is because I love it here. Because it loves me,” says Carl Pucci, the president and founder of EO59.

“Anybody who owns their own company knows that the whole entire thing is driven by love. You start a company because you’re passionate about it, because you care about it. And Estonia is a place that gives you that back a 100-fold”, shares Pucci, speaking of the nurturing relationship Estonia provides to its small companies trying to establish themselves. And on the flipside, with the most unicorn companies per capita compared to any other country in the world, its clear that Estonia is a burgeoning business ecosystem that can support players of all sizes and allow them to thrive.

Fully digital, literally

Through its own determination, hard work and modernisation, Estonia has evolved itself into a thriving and digitally advanced community in 2021 that businesses and investors can trust. By devoting time and effort into developing its digital services rather than relying on other large companies, Estonia has become a self-sufficient state with continual growth underway.

The nation leading the world in the digital revolution has already 99% of its public services digital, such as filing taxes, banking, signing documents, and voting in elections.

“Internet voting is something that we are very proud of, and I’m really surprised by other countries having taken this up”, tells Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

The digital tools allowed easy and quick transition to home offices when the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, where other countries struggled to maintain a level of normality.

For foreigners, the country also offers a government-issued digital identity through e-residency, that provides access to Estonia’s transparent business environment.

Self-driving vehicles on the streets

Estonia is also one of the first countries in the world that legalised testing of self-driving vehicles on all public roads in the country in 2017 which has triggered a wave of inventions for self-driving vehicles. According to Marten Kaevats, former National Digital Adviser, there are 6-7 companies that are currently building different self-driving solutions in Estonia.

“We can see self-driving package delivery robots on the streets every day,” Kaevats describes the Estonian way of new normal. “We have a legally permissive ground for all things digital, and I think the future of self-driving vehicles is about actually a shared urban mobility scheme, which means that we can build very efficient mobility systems with about 20 times less vehicles as people are using nowadays,” Kaevats believes.

Despite its comparatively small size, Estonia has proven, and continues to prove, it is capable of nurturing future-oriented innovations. And one that even excels and sets the pace for other countries in areas that it has surpassed.

No corporate income tax until you succeed

With an attractive business environment, Estonia has the best tax system in the world. It means no corporate income tax (on retained and reinvested profits), no capital tax, no property transfer taxes. The world’s simplest tax system also brings the benefit that tax compliance takes the least amount of time in Estonia.

“You could consider that in every investment into every company made the government is also in with 20%. Because we will wait whether you succeed. And only when you succeed and start paying dividends, we will tax you,” President of Estonia (2016-2021) Kersti Kaljulaid explains how Estonia provides a nurturing relationship to its small companies trying to establish themselves.

“I think inside all of us, a voice cries out “Hey, change the world!” Well, you can do it here. Here is where you can change the world”, Pucci encourages other companies to open their business in Estonia.

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