It Takes Two to Tango: Enabling Greek Entrepreneurship

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10 April 2016
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by Jason Manolopoulos, Managing Partner, Dromeus Capital Management S.A.

Nearly all developed nations have two common denominators that stand out amongst them. Specifically, the central role that is played by strong institutions, coupled with a dynamic platform for entrepreneurship. It therefore follows that for an economy to develop fully to its optimum economic potential, strong institutions need to be fully in place and entrepreneurial spirit must be vigorously encouraged to flourish.

The most widely cited, classic reason that entrepreneurship is understood to be imperative for the development of every modern society is based on its total contribution to society. Empirically, it is the entrepreneurs who create businesses, produce jobs, forge social change, raise productivity, foster community development and most enduringly solve society’s problems and needs.

In a country such as Greece, where unemployment has been above 25% for over 4 years, the lack of jobs and inefficient public sector has heightened young Greeks’ eagerness to start their own companies. Obsolete and cosy jobs, once protected by government policy cease to exist, red tape and the closed economy have been removed and as a result entrepreneurship will flourish.

Creative workers will be led to the entrepreneurial world due to de-regulation and access to the global economy. It is here that Endeavor with its outstanding group of advisors add real value to Greek companies owing to the insights into the implementation of industry best practices and access to a global network it provides. Thus, fast growing Greek companies will not need to reinvent the wheel. Moreover, expanding to international markets is imperative for the Greek economy to flourish and Endeavor with its offices in 20+ countries, can springboard these companies to scale up and form solid customer relationships more efficiently.

Endeavor companies in Greece have already created thousands of jobs directly or indirectly by growing their businesses. Furthermore, in a true sense of a sustainable, perpetual cycle, these Endeavor supported entrepreneurs have already funded, seeded, incubated, advised and mentored new start-ups, thus sowing the seeds for more future successes. The key values of giving back, growing the community and the positive externalities of the network effect are already taking hold. The culmination of the above is the essence of entrepreneurship; a virtuous cycle of ongoing positive economic growth and prosperity.

This virtuous effect is multiplicative and exponential, thus once it has begun, it is self-enforcing and unstoppable. Almost unstoppable that is. A government on the other-hand is horizontal and linear, it provides services, passes laws, charges taxes, and is usually appointed through elections. Governments and countries are run by decree, rules and regulations.  Whilst these components are necessary for a well-functioning harmonious society, unfortunately, regulation and laws can hinder entrepreneurship in two succinct ways of differing origin.

Firstly, in the world of digits, with the speed of technological and societal change ever increasing, governments struggle to keep up with the pace of development. Additionally, the government decision making process is often riddled with the problems of top down decisions, groupthink, multiple signatories, delayed feedback, lack of expertise and risk aversion to anything new. Government simply cannot keep up with the trial and error or learn and adapt processes of successful entrepreneurs. Hence rules and regulation can often remain antiquated and thus damaging.

This problem can be tackled if governments also try to pro-actively form a more entrepreneurial mind-set, as we have seen in various countries or states, such as the Netherlands, Israel and Singapore.  Secondly, and more sinisterly, is related to regulatory capture and outright corruption, whereby inefficient companies manage to push out other promising upstarts. Innovation does mean that some value chains, industries or companies will suffer and others will win. Whilst creative and determined Greek Entrepreneurs can compete and grow, the eco-system will only become self-enforcing once the Greek government manages to promote a level playing field and keeps up with modern demands.  This is the key factor which Greek Entrepreneurs cannot influence overnight.

For the government to change, there must be societal change to elect and support a different set of politicians in Greece.  Just as children of entrepreneurs, are more likely to follow their parent’s footsteps, young entrepreneurs also need a group of new successful role models to emulate. The electorate need to visualise and subsequently demand a different way of doing business . A different set of ‘success’ stories from the past is needed, which was littered with the businessmen-politicians, the peroxide tele-personas, the mega-Journalists, and the dodgy intermediaries with a yacht, that dominated Greece culturally over the last decades.

For Greece to succeed new entrepreneurial role models are essential. These exist and are amongst us already. They need to be positively promoted to act as signposts to an electorate, that promoting the growth of entrepreneurship is a proven way to improve the economic conditions for all Greeks as compared to upholding the status quo. Whilst Change happens, progress requires planning. Humans, being social, feel compelled to copy each other. The Endeavor platform has already promoted such much needed successful role models and given them a platform to be heard. The upward virtuous circle has begun here. Let us all support them and make sure it perpetuates.

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