Greek entrepreneurs seeking EU experience jump 200 pct

The number of Greeks applying to join the Europe Commission’s Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program jumped nearly 200 pct this year, according to the Academy of Entrepreneurship (AKEP), one of the groups running the program in Greece.

Andreas Stefanidis, president of the Academy of Entrepreneurship (AKEP), in an interview with Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) said that Greeks are shifting more and more towards innovation and entrepreneurship due to the country’s crisis, looking for opportunities to network abroad via the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Program.

“We believe that this growth will continue in Greece in 2018,” he said.

The program relates to entrepreneurs of all ages that do business in all fields and runs between 1 to 6 months.

“It is a cross border exchange program that offers new and aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to acquire knowledge from experienced business people running small operations in one of the countries taking part in the program.”

The full interview follows:

– Can you tell us a few things about the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program? And what is the role of the Academy of Entrepreneurship?

– It is a program that has a similar philosophy with the Erasmus program for students but is more focused on the cooperation of new and experienced entrepreneurs in Europe. It started in 2009 and is a cross border exchange program that offers new and aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to acquire knowledge from experienced business people running small operations in one of the countries taking part in the program.

The exchange of experiences takes place during a stay of between 1 to 6 months alongside an experienced business person in another country, while the new entrepreneur is funded by the European Commission. Greek business people with an enterprise that is more than three years old can also act as host entrepreneurs and accommodate a new entrepreneur from another European country, without being burdened with any costs.

– What kind of candidates does the program attract in Greece? What kind of impact has the crisis had on the program?

– The program attracts candidates that want to move their career and business ahead. Usually, they are university graduates above the age of 23. But the ages of candidates is not important. Although the program refers to young entrepreneurs, the European Commission does not impose an age limit, something which is very important.

Due to the crisis, people have been examining their professional choices more carefully. Greeks have also developed a better sense of entrepreneurship. This is reflected in the number of number of people applying to join the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurship program which rose nearly 200% this year. Last year we also had a large rise. We believe that this growth will continue in Greece in 2018

– What are the main challenges of the program?

– The biggest challenge is securing the participation of the right new and experienced entrepreneurs that will show dedication and allocate time for a constructive exchange of learning and knowledge. It is difficult to find the right candidates that will put their business on hold and leave the country. However, this has been foreseen in the program and the duration of the visits abroad can be as short as one month.

– The Academy of Entrepreneurship is ten years old in 2017 and has helped thousands of people on the path of entrepreneurship via its different programs. What does the future hold for you?

– We are one of the most active organizations in Greece, promoting entrepreneurship and innovations and this is something we plan to boost with the help of the Start Up global entrepreneurial network, which we represent in Greece from 2013. Apart from implementing a series of European Commission programs in Greece, we have an active role in a series of other initiatives that support entrepreneurships. We are very proud, for example, of our involvement in the Blue Growth initiative that promotes fresh business ideas relating to sea and aquatic resources and is supported by the Piraeus municipality and Aephoria.net.

The Academy of Entrepreneurship was set up under the auspices of the Educational Association of Athens HFAISTOS that has been operating since 1935. It has a history of providing informal adult education and its target is to continue on this course by introducing new programs, knowledge and know how to south eastern Europe from all over the world.