Liina Vahtras has been appointed new CEO of the Estonian e-Residency program.
Taavi Kotka, e-Residency Advisory Board chair and one of its co-founders, said: "Liina Vahtras has a strong vision for e-Residency's future and comes with custom-made experience, having worked in the public and private sector. We believe that the programme is in capable hands and is sure to achieve the ambitious goals set for the next period," commented Kotka."
"The tax revenue generated by the e-Residency program continues to grow annually – this should be seen as export, not as shifting money from one pocket to another. At this stage, new challenges lie ahead in evolving e-Residency to a new level, while also mitigating risks," Kotka added, via a press release.
Vahtras herself said her decision to accept the position was motivated by her desire to make the most of her prior startup experience with innovative technologies, by further developing the unique value proposition offered by e-Estonia.
She said: "I have been a fan of the e-Residency program since its inception because I have seen its practical benefits, not only for Estonia but also for entrepreneurs."
"Estonia is still ahead of the curve in terms of providing a virtual and secure business environment. In the context of simplifying business ownership, our country-as-service approach remains unique in the world. What is more, the size and geographical scope of the e-resident community will enable data-driven product development. Throughout my career, I have always been a passionate proponent of customer-oriented thinking and I want to offer practical solutions to problems faced by international entrepreneurs," she went on.
Sandra Särav, Deputy Secretary General for Business and Consumer Environment at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said that the e-Residency program had grown and matured over the years, but also needs to be taken to a new level in the context of ever-intensifying global competition."
"We are delighted that Liina Vahtras has accepted this challenging and demanding task," Särav went on.
Vahtras was selected unanimously from a pool of strong candidates as being someone who could deliver the program's ambitious objectives, Taavi Kotka added.
She was selected via a public competitive process organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications together with the Estonian Business and Innovation Agency.
Vahtras' background includes extensive experience in strategic communication, e-governance and startups.
She will take up her new post on June 5.
The e-Residency program's economic impact is expected to reach €100 million euros per annum by the end of 2025
Vahtras' most recent roles were in developing growth strategies at Estonian tech companies Pipedrive and Tuum, while 2015-2017 she was an advisor to then-Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, focusing on strategic issues and e-governance. She had also worked as an adviser to Rõivas' predecessor, Andrus Ansip.
She also worked in senior roles at Nortal and in PR for the Reform Party, though she is not a member of that party or any other.
Prior to that, Vahtras led the marketing and communications team at Nortal, the largest software development company in the Baltics.
Estonia launched the world's first e-Residency program at the end of 2014 with the aim of providing foreign nationals safe access to its public e-services, while also promoting cross-border entrepreneurship and generating extra revenue for the national budget.
Since then, 102,200 people from 176 countries have been granted e-resident status and have between them set up more than 25,000 companies registered in Estonia, and creating more than €160 million in tax revenue and state fees for the state.
Currently, there are more than 63,300 digital ID cards in active use by e-residents.
2022 marked a new record in the program's tax revenue history, with €48.4 million collected from companies run by Estonian e-residents, in the form of labor and dividend taxes.
Editor: Andrew Whyte