An Unlikely Entrepreneurial Potential in Greece

Those of us who have been watching the long-running Greek economic “crisis” from a distance are prone to treating it as some sort of morality play or perhaps a shadow-show of conflicts raging not only in Europe but in this country over austerity and growth and equality. Even if we lead cheers for the Greeks in their brave but overmatched battle with European creditors, it’s hard to get a sense of how it’s affecting the people involved.

So it’s instructive to read a Ten Miles Square web exclusive today from former U.S. journalist but more recently Greek entrepreneurial advocate Anthe Mitrakos, who reports that a lively tech start-up scene in Greece has survived the country’s troubles, but could succumb to the pressure to emigrate unless stability is restored.

[D]oes this new wave of young entrepreneurs have the right ammunition to beat the odds in this Wild West-of-sorts business environment created by the recession and teetering Greek politics? Though the Greek startup community has seen a quick growth rate in terms of new businesses established annually, it’s not strong enough to battle the country’s widespread joblessness.

A more than sad job market, (the worst in the EU), and crisis-born necessity are what triggered the budding of a new era of entrepreneurs in the first place. But the upcoming months, experts say, will be “sink or swim” for these companies, many of which are at the mercy of pending political deals which will determine the country’s economic wellbeing, or lack thereof….

“All companies need stability and predictability in the markets in order to survive and plan ahead, and this is not the case in Greece these days,” says Endeavor Greece Managing Director Haris Makryniotis.

An immediate lift of capital controls, followed by increased liquidity, are key priorities for Greek businesses right now, according to a July report released by Endeavor.

“Though in the long run the country has significant competitive advantages and great human capital, it is critical to stabilize the financial and political environment in order for entrepreneurship to flourish,” Makryniotis says.

That will require a Greek government focused on stability and EU players who want to see Greece prosper, not just suffer for its alleged sins.

Please read the whole thing, especially if you think of yourself as a friend of the Greek people.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.