In the past seven years we all heard about Greece being in the worst condition possible – following the economic crisis that hit the global economy including the Greek one, too. The fact that day by day the situation is worsening rather than improving, and with unemployment rate of 58 per cent among young people under 25 it makes Greece seems like a lost piece of land in Europe. The Greek growth model, however, should be based on an economy that would become more extrovert and more attractive to investors as well as active in new and promising industry sectors.
The key here is not the government or even the Greek “old-fashioned’’
businesses. I believe, however, that a number of newcomers to Greek business that is a
number of Greek young entrepreneurs and their respective start-up companies
have already started making their own point. These are young people, creative and innovative minds,
and they want to pursue their dreams. They represent the new age of entrepreneurs,
a fresh change to the way of doing business, even if it is venturous.
Jobs are not created by politicians, but by entrepreneurs. Greece needs a new generation of business-minded graduates, who know how to create their own jobs and build businesses that employ others. Nonetheless, politicians can enable and encourage entrepreneurship. A small group of entrepreneurs can make a big impact even if they do not start the next Facebook.
What went almost unnoticed during the meltdown was the response of a growing community of Greek entrepreneurs who sets about building a new generation of innovative, largely tech-based enterprises, and laying the foundations of what could be a new economic landscape for the country. Greece has always had strong leanings towards entrepreneurship, with a high number of businesses per capita. However, many had a track record for being unproductive and focused on consumption sectors with low growth perspective.
While the crisis devastated the Greek economy, it also forced a change in the perception of entrepreneurship, with the need to restore growth through entrepreneurship becoming critical. Potential was identified in various sectors and, with a lack of career alternatives, entrepreneurship was seen as the way forward for Greece.
According to 2012 GEM Report on Entrepreneurship (published by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE))
a) There was an impressive increase in young Greek entrepreneurs in the 25-34 age bracket; they've decided to start a business. Over 160,000 young people became entrepreneurs in Greece in 2012, a figure 9 per cent higher than the year before.
b) There has been a year-on-year increase of over 11 per cent in Greek start-ups using new technologies/procedures in their business. That was the highest figure among all countries assessed in the report.
c) Greek start-up entrepreneurs are more export-oriented, or want to become export-oriented. One in five entrepreneurs who started a business in 2012 say that over 25 per cent of their clientele is going to be outside Greece.
In 2013 there was a fast build-up of a start-up ecosystem in Greece, with more than 10 start-up incubators launched in the market and over 50 award competitions for innovative start-ups taking place in Athens and other cities. Lastly, new players such as universities have expressed support for the continuously growing ecosystem.
Last but not least, young companies provide the best evidence. That Greek start-ups are making a mark on the Greek market. Although they may not have an impact on the big numbers of the country’s economy in the short term, but they are affecting the spirit of entrepreneurship in Greece for the long term. They are the substance for change and will probably prove to be a glimmer of hope for an otherwise stifled economy.