Location: Sikyon Coast, Xylokastro, Greece
Innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are necessary in every growing economy. Greece is recovering from a long crisis and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) has been building capacity together with local partners and stakeholders, promoting the principles of economic sustainability in an open market economy throughout that period. This way, we can also reduce drastically the bran-drain phenomenon and help new efforts to arise.
This was the scope of this year’s Entrepreneurship Academy, which was organized for the 4th time, from 20 to 22 September 2019. The 3-day program provided a structured educational process, training budding entrepreneurs, startups and existing business owners on long-term economic growth and development. 20 young entrepreneurs and start-uppers from across Greece joined the 4th Entrepreneurship Academy to update their knowledge and benefit from the expertise and support of distinguished professionals.
To organize the Academy we partnered again with the Institute for Mechatronics, Education, Development and Advancement (IMEDA), the Center for Volunteer Managers of Greece (KEMEL), the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) the Young Liberals Greece and the Center for Liberal Studies-Markos Dragoumis (KEFIM).
In principle, this workshop is designed to help people interested in starting a new business, expanding a current business or even recovering a business.
Mr Pantelis Lamprou, the senior trainer of the Academy, focused on benchmarks, early wins & sustainability, while he presented contending methods of business modelling. Applying contemporary models he updated the participants on to gather and manage their resources, how to stay focused and ignore distractions from the market ecosystem, have self-awareness and self-efficacy and, of course, develop financial and economic know-how. Last, with targeted exercises, the class was guided on mobilizing others and, build confidence about their product. “It does not eradicate the risk when starting a business or a new career, but at least it won’t be a blind jump into the deep water,” Mr. Lamprou noted.
Mr Vasilis Peratzakis, a learnt professional on electronic commerce, talked about planning, developing, and managing projects of e-business awareness. It is imperative for an extrovert company to use technology so Mr Peratzakis displayed how young entrepreneurs should develop operational and technological skills to include of e-commerce and e-business strategies for leveraging organizational procedures and processes over the Internet.
In addition, Mr. Apostolos Siokas, senior buyer at an international company and the Vice-Chairman of Young Liberals, offered an empirical approach to modern sales techniques, and Mr. George Marinos Papanikolaou, Young Liberals Chairman and HR expert, talked about Human Resources management in small scale business, in order to achieve the highest efficiency of their employees.
The new thing in this year’s Academy was the hosting of the Entrepreneurship Symposium, which aimed to discuss the prospects of Greek commerce as well as methods to promote the value of entrepreneurship in the Greek society. To address these issues, the FNF invited important people from the market economy and the civil society.
Mr. Alkis Tsatsaronis, representing EZA Beers, said that his company is competing international companies with easier access to capital. However, an important factor for every company is to keep production costs low should they wish to offer competitive products.
Mr. Leonidas Typaldos, owner of Sikyon Beach Resort, highlighted the timing as a crucial factor for entering the market. Innovation is also important, he said, because it has the ability to differentiate the service or product in the course of time.
Mr. Vasilis Sakas, manager at the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested to the Greek entrepreneurs to visit as many international exhibitions as possible because it is a safe way to find reliable partners. Moreover, he said that human capital is the most important asset of a company and it should be paired with soft and hard skills.
Mr. Alexandros Skouras, President of KEFIM-Markos Dragoumis, talked about his think tank’s research on taxation and the institutional environment. He explained that Greece needs an easy and business-friendly institutional framework.
Last, Apostolos Siokas said that there are always opportunities in the market. However, transparency and accountability in the structures of a corporation are necessary should it run perfectly. Last, he expressed his view that entrepreneurship should be a school lesson to establish a new entrepreneurial culture in Greece.
Business simulation and results
In the context of experiential learning, as part of the Academy, participants had to present their ideas by simulating the creation of a new business. The 3 working groups took the entire weekend and came up with 3 commercial ideas, following all the steps presented by the instructors. The winning team will be awarded a special prize in a separate event and follow-up session, at Athens, in late October. In that next meeting, we intend to bring along participants from all 4 classes, learn about their progress and get feedback about their learnings from the Entrepreneurship Academy.
The Academy was organized by the Greek office of the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom in partnership with IMEDA, KEMEL, AHK the Young-Liberals-Greece and the KEFIM.