What is Leader?

The Leader approach is implemented by 52 local action groups (LAGs) operating in all of Finland´s rural areas as well as Leader Åland.

The Leader approach means activities, advisory services and funding to the benefit of specific regions. The aim is to strengthen and develop local communities and companies and increase the vitality of the area.
The central idea behind the Leader activities is to harness the expertise, knowledge, and activities of local residents for the development of the community. We help to develop the area's livelyhood based on the ideas and needs of the residents.
The core idea of the Leader approach is developing the area together with the locals. This is accomplished by funding local development projects and providing help and support at all stages of project implementation. Local Action Groups activate, motivate, inform, educate, and assist those carrying out the projects. All advisory services are free of charge.
Find your local action group (Swedish)Find your local action group (Finnish)

“Leader provides activities, advisory services and funding”

The local action groups (LAGs) operate based on their own local development strategy, which is created in collaboration with the area’s residents. The strategy guides the activities of the LAG board, as it makes decisions regarding project funding. The board is elected based on the tripartite model, where 1/3 of the members represent the local public sector, 1/3 represent local businesses, and the remaining 1/3 represent rural residents. 

Locals can get involved in the LAGs’ activities by participating in events, carrying out projects, contributing to projects, or becoming members of the LAG. The members of the LAG elect the board during an annual meeting, and any member of the LAG can also be nominated as member of the LAG board. 


The name Leader is originally an abbreviation of the French expression “Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale”, meaning “links between rural economy development actions”.


Leader funding can be used for local development projects, as well as for projects supporting the development of local businesses. Depending on the project, the funding can cover 20–100% of the total costs of the project. Contact the LAG in your area for more information about the different types of funding.

Leader funding can be applied for by, for example, local associations, small businesses employing fewer than 10 people, municipalities, educational institutions, and foundations. The projects need to align with the LAG’s local development strategy and its goals.

It is worthwhile to get in touch with your own LAG office when planning a new project. The LAG staff can help fine-tune the project plan and provide assistance at various stages during the application process. 

Find your local action group (Finnish)Find your local action group (Swedish)