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The Hellenic Initiative Awards Three Greek Entrepreneurs

ATHENS – While the country’s economic fate is a global question at hand these days, The Hellenic Initiative is determined to go against the tide, having named three Greek businesses as this year’s Entrepreneurship Award recipients at the Onassis Cultural Center, June 22nd.

Selected out of more than 730 submitted business plans, the highest received yet, were Heliix, Smart Guide, and Yoleni’s, representing a range of commercial ventures from a clean energy technology, to a mobility aid for the sight-impaired, to a specialist online delicatessen. The company teams qualify for mentoring services and prize funding of 100,000 euro to 1 million euro each. The exact amount to each, which must be repaid in full within five years of receipt of the first installment, remains confidential.

“We congratulate not only the winners and finalists, but every entrant who had the courage and resourcefulness to turn their ideas into action through the creation of a business plan,” said Chairman of the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award Jimmy Athanasopoulos. “Everyone who enters this award program shares our belief that Greek ingenuity and business acumen have the power to transform this nation’s economy,” he added.

Founded in 2012 by the London-based Libra Group on behalf of The Hellenic Initiative, the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award’s mission is to stimulate an entrepreneurial spirit by providing support and crisis relief to promising new Greek businesses, offering the opportunity for growth, interest free.

“So far, we have allocated a total of € 2.275 million as support funds to help these entrepreneurs jumpstart their companies,” said The Hellenic Initiative Program Director Michael Printzos. “The people at Libra Group have done a great job selecting the winners,” he added.

Winners are selected by a number of criteria including level of innovation, demonstrated financial prudence, planned job creation, and attention to sustainability communicated in their business plan. Judges include Libra Group Chairman and CEO Jim Logothetis, Kirkland & Ellis LLP Senior Partner George Stamas, U.S. General Services Administration Associate Administrator Phaedra Chrousos, and Founder of the Cycladic Group Dimitri Goulandris, among others.

“The fact that this progress is taking place in a period of deep recession amply demonstrates that the Greek human capital has an unshakable belief in the power of entrepreneurship as a way to transform the economy,” said Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award Director Stavros Sarinas.

The Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award has since its inception supported a total of eleven businesses. Past recipients include Web-based community Open Circle, premium herbal tea Anassa Organics, seafood business Stella Mare, and performance tracking tool Sports Management Index.

“We look forward to working with this year’s winners to bring these brilliant business concepts to fruition,” Athanasopoulos said.

About the 2015 Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award winners:

Heliix uses ground-breaking technology to convert thermal energy into electricity. The company’s first implementation of the technology, Phaethon™, is a device that can be retrofitted to any type of solar water heater, in order to create a solar co-generation system that produces hot water and electricity at the same time, providing a reduction of up to 30 percent in a household’s annual electricity costs.

Applicants: Nick Arapkoules, Panagiotis Papadiamantis.

Smart Guide is a wearable electronic mobility guide that senses nearby obstacles and obstructions for the blind and visually impaired. This innovative product will be produced in the facilities of “Lighthouse for the Blind of Greece” by employees who themselves have impaired vision. The project aims to create social, as well as economic impact through its workforce focus, affordability, and strong export prospects.

Applicants: Karkoulias George, Thravalos Nikos.

Yoleni’s is an online delicatessen that enables European and American customers to purchase authentic products from every corner of Greece in an easy and secure manner. Yolenis.com offers more than 1,200 products from 110 highly regarded rural producers across Greece. The website includes a wide variety of food and drink combinations and features a wealth of information on each region plus numerous local recipes and serving ideas.

Applicants: Nikolaos Pipas, Yannis Georgiadis, Petros Agazanis.

About the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award:

The Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award was founded in 2012, aiming to support established and budding entrepreneurs by providing funding, support services and mentorship for start-up businesses. The Libra Group has committed over €7 million to the program which will help entrepreneurs in Greece to generate economic growth in their homeland. The award partners are Piraeus Bank Group, which has contributed to the training and education of participants since 2014 through its subsidiary, Excelixi Center of Sustainable Entrepreneurship, the Australian-based property investment and development company Jalouise Pty Ltd., and Dimitri Goulandris. Amongst the winners’ supporters are Microsoft Hellas, People for Business, Reed Smith, and SAP Hellas.

“The Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award was born out of the belief that Greece’s economic malaise should not deter those with an idea worth pursuing, and that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of economic growth – whether within a thriving economy or during a recession,” Sarinas said. “Through our winners, we have contributed to Greece’s growth and created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in Greece, supporting the Greek economy and society, whilst promoting the entrepreneurial spirit in Greece,” he added.

About The Libra Group:

The Libra Group is an international business group comprising 30 subsidiaries active across six continents. The group has principal operations in shipping, aviation, real estate, hospitality and energy as well as a range of diversified investments. Owned by the Logothetis family, Libra is distinguished by a combination of traditional values, new ideas and an agile mindset that allows it to take advantage of opportunities.

About The Hellenic Initiative:

A global movement of the Hellenic diaspora established in 2012, The Hellenic Initiative aims to provide a safety net for crisis-stricken at-risk communities, as well as offer mentoring and monetary support for entrepreneurship and new Greek businesses.

“The Hellenic Initiative focuses on two very distinct sectors: crisis relief and promoting entrepreneurship and job creation,” Printzos said. “The first pillar is giving someone a fish and the second pillar is teaching someone how to fish,” he added.

The Hellenic Initiative is preparing to host its third annual banquet September 30th, at 4 World Trade Center in New York City. “[the event] is what keeps us alive and fills pockets with money to support all our programs,” Printzos said. “Especially with a program like this, support from the diaspora is absolutely necessary,” he added.

For more information on The Hellenic Initiative and Hellenic Entrepreneurship Awards, visit www.thehellenicinitiative.org, and www.hellenicaward.com.

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