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The Greek economy has been in dire straits since 2010, when the Greek debt crisis started. Several members of the European Union (EU) have also undergone their own debt crisis story as well, but Greece in particular has failed to rebound. Greece was also one of the most hard-hit countries during the 2008 recession. According to the New York Times, international banks and foreign investors started withdrawing their money from the Greek economy as early as 2010, and debt as a percentage of GDP, already above 100% since 2006, soared to new heights in the 2010s.

Greece has toyed with the idea of leaving the European Union—creditors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank, and the European Commission have bailed out the Greek economy to the tune of 240 billion euros ($264 billion USD). These creditors imposed harsh conditions, and the most well known of them is called austerity. Austerity, a set of policies with the aim of reducing government budget deficits, forced Greece to cut government spending and increase taxes. One key statistic in the Greek economy is its unemployment rate, which is hovering above 25 percent (as opposed to an EU average of 9.8 percent).

Can startup technology companies save the Greek economy? The New York Times is reporting that there is some hope. Economic mismanagement, resistance to changes in the market and high unemployment are not conducive to small business success. In addition, several Greek politicians have called the bailout deal “humiliating” and are resisting change. Travelmyth.com, a hotel recommendation service, can serve as an example for Greek entrepreneurs who are navigating an unstable economic landscape.

“Our customers are not Greek companies, so the success of our project does not depend on Greece at all,” said Stefanos Vasdekis, 35, a co-founder of Travelmyth. “It’s how competitive we will be in a worldwide environment,” he said, hinting that Greece needs to adjust to the global market. Greece’s youth unemployment (defined by the United Nations as anyone between the ages of 14 to 28 who are unemployed) is a staggering 53 percent.

This presents an interesting situation and tough decision for young Greeks: prolong a brain drain (a problem that is far more rampant in developing countries due to lack of opportunities and other factors) to Western Europe and other developed countries, or take a long shot at revitalizing the Greek economy. Currently, the only lucrative option at making a living in Greece is a government job, which requires an individual to have sponsorship from a political party.

One of the spaces providing young Greeks with working space is Found.ation, where entrepreneurs can also attend workshops on how to further their businesses. One of the success stories from Found.ation include five entrepreneurs in their 20s, who founded Hangover Media. Hangover Media’s Neolaia.gr, which markets to young Greeks by providing job listings and entertainment, is supported by “native advertising”, or sponsored articles and features written by the Hangover Media team for clients wishing to market to Greek youth.

One Found.ation co-founder, Dimitris G. Kalavros-Gousiou, is encouraging young Greeks to focus on the positive and be proactive. “Talking about the crisis, and talking about all the negative aspects of this huge economic depression in this country, doesn’t help that much,” he said. “It helps if you can start building something that makes sense, and makes sense both for business and for society.”

Tech startups are largely funded by venture and seed capitalists—which could play an even bigger role in the Greek economy, as government assistance is highly unlikely in the country’s current economic environment. One seed-capital company, Openfund, was founded by 33-year-old George Tziralis and is managing a portfolio of 15 million euros ($16 million USD). Two successful startups Tziralis and his company have funded include Taxibeat, a Greek version of Uber, and Workable, an employee recruitment tool that is being used in 39 countries around the world.

“We’ve demonstrated that some pretty good and interesting companies can come out of, let’s say, an exotic start-up location like Greece,” Tziralis said. “We get the best part of what exists here, without worrying about the worst part.” Another benefit of tech startups popping up all over Greece is lower overhead costs. This could drive down unemployment, help companies attain financial buoyancy, and be something that Greeks can relate to more easily. “Greek salaries are much lower than in other European countries, and Greek workers have more loyalty to startups,” Tziralis added.

While Greece has heavily relied on tourism, shipping, and agriculture for many years, these options are no longer as viable as they used to be. If the Greek government can make the necessary adjustments to help these tech startups, they can be a driving force in lifting Greece out of the dire economic straits that they are currently in.

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