Greek House Davos: A Conversation with Irene Vantarakis
April 16, 2022
By Vasilis Papoutsis
Irini Vantarakis. (Photo by Markos Kimionis)
For the first time ever, Greece will have a professional presence at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Annual Summit from May 22-26, 2022 in Davos, Switzerland. GREEK HOUSE DAVOS (GHD) is set to open its doors there to provide an opportunity for Greek businesses and industries to meet and explore new possibilities with global enterprises such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
The WEF is an international non-governmental and lobbying organization that brings together the most important decision makers in the world. Its annual meeting at Davos, Switzerland is considered the most exclusive and influential gathering in the world.
The Greek Pavilion will be located opposite the Hotel Morosani Schweizerhof, a fifteen minute walk from the Congress Center. It will bring top Greek industry leaders in contact with 3,000 participants, among them, investors, business leaders, economists, celebrities, journalists, and academics. Past attendees include Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, Roberto Azevedo, Director-General, World Trade Organization, U2 singer Bono, Prince William, as well as prime ministers and presidents from all over the world.
GHD is a creation of the visionary Founder and Managing Director of Avadar Transatlantic, Irene Vantaraki. She is an international affairs adviser and business relations strategist who has collaborated with prominent individuals, corporations, and international organizations across the United States and Europe and she was a perfect fit to bring GHD to life. Vantaraki, who was born in Melbourne Australia and raised in Greece, declares herself to be “a citizen of the world with deep love of Greece and its culture.” She spent seven years working in various positions with Motor Oil in Greece. “I was very lucky to have worked for Motor Oil. It was the best business training anyone could get in multiple industries including shipping, banking, and energy. I am grateful to the Vardinoyiannis family for their support and for giving me the opportunity to grow as a professional,” Vantaraki said. Membership in the WEF costs $60,000 to $600,000 and an additional fee of $27,000 is required to acquire an attendance badge to the Davos conference. Vantaraki understands the importance of Greek companies participating in such an exclusive gathering.
The Greek economy saw a financial reversal of fortunes since the disastrous economic crisis of 2008 that threatened the country’s position in the EU and greater global economy. GHD “is looking forward to introducing the world to Greece’s new environment of economic and investment reality and new investment opportunities resulting from the recent economic reforms” Vantaraki said.
The creation of GHD was a challenging endeavor that took Vantaraki and her dedicated team of ten people more than two years of hard work to create but for her it was a vision of a lifetime that she was determined to complete. The first step was to establish a non-profit and fill the advisory board with international personalities such as Dr. Barbara Kolm, Vice-President of the Central Bank of Austria and John Charalambakis, Managing Director, BlackSummit Financial Group. Establishing affiliations with international organizations was also vital. Greek Minister of Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis embraced the effort and even though GHD is operating under the auspices of the Ministry all the funds were raised by private donors. The selection process to determine which companies would be invited to the WEF was guided by the aim of identifying each company’s potential viability and prospect of success in the international market. “There is a specific plan in place that aims to produce results beyond the initial phase of introduction. We will use key performance indicators (KPI) to monitor the progress and the eventual success of each venture. We have deliberated on best and worst-case scenarios and we are prepared to deal with every possibility,” Vantaraki explained.
Upon returning to Athens, Vantaraki has recruited a private organization that will help to facilitate and finalize the business deals. She believes that Greece has a very good core of startup companies but there is lack of funding to help those startups venture into the global market. “The recent investment of a giant corporation such as JP Morgan with Viva Wallet proves that we have innovative companies and what we need to do is offer them a platform to showcase their capabilities. And the Greek House Davos intends to do just that.’’
Irene Vantaraki is an optimist. She believes that Greece now offers the right conditions to attract significant foreign investment and that this is the right time to do it. “I am a strong believer that investment is the best tool for development that will lead Greece to prosperity. I don’t want to live in a protractive state of financial austerity. I want to see the Greek state and the people prospering and living better lives. I believe we have a lot of talented people here who are capable of achieving prosperity with the proper organization and support.” All participants and observers hope that this ambitious project will be greatly successful.
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