A Youth Perspective on Entrepreneurship
The vast majority of Greek university students take a positive view on entrepreneurship, while one in three intends to start their own business in the near future.
These findings, which challenge existing perceptions of entrepreneurship in Greek universities, are among the conclusions of a survey presented during the 26th annual The Greek Economy Conference organized by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. The survey, “A youth perspective on entrepreneurship: Something is changing”, which covered 2,222 students enrolled in more than 30 Institutions ofHigher Education, was conducted by EY,the Athens University of Economics and Business, Endeavor Greece and the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.
Against a background of persistently high unemployment, economic stagnation and uncertainty, 81% of respondents have a positive viewtowards entrepreneurship. At the same time, many appear skeptical towards the prevailing class of entrepreneurs.
More than 30% of the students who were surveyed declared that they intend to start their own business. The profile of potential business ventures is focused on the use of technology, innovation and extroversion, with an emphasis on the country’s competitive advantages, which is in stark contrast to the established introvert development model. The next generation of entrepreneurs also appears to be challenging the traditional predominance of restaurants/bars/catering/food retail as a business option.
66% of students mention creativity and 46% a desire forindependence, rather than the absence of alternative options, asthemain driversof business activity. Whilefear of failure is still strong, it is perceived as an opportunityfor learning.
Although students participate to some extent in at least one entrepreneurship activity, such as business events and courses, 78% of students believe that theiruniversity does not adequately prepare them for a business career. They would welcome closer ties with the labour market, organized internships in mature companies as well as startups, business simulation programs, more frequent meetings with really successful entrepreneurs. The vast majority of changes that students would like to see do not involve additional financial costs for the state, but rather opportunities to enter into the entrepreneurial world. They seek practical knowledge and a real understanding of the marketplace, rather than programs based on theory.
With regard to the current environment, 78% of Greek students believe that the state is hostile to entrepreneurship. . Contrary to previously held prevailing notions, the students place more emphasis on reforms and the need to consolidate a climate of stability and less on direct financial aid. As was to be expected, lack of finance emerged as the major obstacle to starting a business, however, the state is not perceived as a direct source of finance (e.g., through subsidies).
In an environment characterized by limited resources, the roleof the stateand related stakeholdersshould clearly focuson targetedand practicalinterventions whichdo not involve significant costs.
This study concludes with a series ofdetailed proposals, most of which do not entail a financial burden for the state. Theyhavebeengroupedin10basiccategories:
- Strengthening entrepreneurial culturein universities
- Encouragingbusiness initiatives by students
- Activelysupporting new business ventures by universities
- Linkingeducational institutionswith the business community
- Encouraging extroversion andinternational networking
- Promoting academic research
- Improvingthe financing framework
- Promoting alternativeforms of finance
- Adopting aflexibletax framework
The representatives of the four organizations responsible for the survey express their confidence that their initiative will mark the beginning of a fruitful dialogue on the entrepreneurial ecosystem and policies that will enable entrepreneurship to assume a leading role in the country’s development efforts. They also committed themselves to follow up on this initiative and enhance their recommendations, in close cooperation with the state and academic authorities.
“The coming generation has both the vision and the will to move forward. Our obligation is to enable them to do so,” they concluded.