NEW YORK – The “egg,” a corporate social responsibility initiative by Eurobank that supports young entrepreneurs in Greece, recently received a 135,000 euro grant from The Hellenic Initiative (THI).
Egg is the acronym for “enter-grow-go.” Aspiring entrepreneurs from all over Greece can participate in the program that is designed and implemented in cooperation with Corallia, an organization committed to fostering entrepreneurship in Greece.
Applicants “enter” by submitting “a concise 8-page business plan, which will be evaluated on the basis of innovation, vision and viability by an independent evaluation committee with expertise in investment management for startups.
The winners are helped by Corallia and Eurobank to settle into the beautiful egg facilities near Sygrou Avenue in Athens, where they will be integrated into “a comprehensive incubation, acceleration, and co-working framework with “fully equipped office premises and enjoy support services for startups, effective business training and access to a network of distinguished mentors in order to accelerate their business ideas,” according to theegg.gr.
They are thus given every opportunity to “grow” and prosper – “go,” – but perhaps most importantly, they become shining examples for their peers, boosting young innovative entrepreneurship and creating jobs for young people in Greece.
THI Program Director Michael Printzos said “THI’s main mission is to implement programs that support Greek society and entrepreneurship. The Hellenic Initiative’s grant to the egg Program is consistent with our values and principles We are delighted with this collaboration, since through this grant, dozens of young entrepreneurs with vision and innovative ideas will find necessary funds in order to stay in Greece and create here, while at the same time, through their business operations, they will be able to create a series of long term benefits for Greek society as a whole.”
Eurobank and THI are awarding monetary prizes to the 10 most innovative teams that are participating in the program’s 3rd cycle. The teams were distinguished for their promising vision, viable strategic plan, and high level of professionalism.
The awards were presented by Jeremy Downward, member of THI’s Board and Board member of Alpheus Advisors, and Printzos.
THI Executive Director Mary Arey told TNH that “THI is very proud to support young entrepreneurs” and said the grants will enable some promising small companies to receive small cash awards to help them stay on track.
He emphasized that investing in Greece includes investing in its young entrepreneurs. “All of them won’t make it, that is a fact, but many of them will,” he said.
Modest assistance from the diaspora can generate big yields.
Arey knows from conversations with the candidates that “as they keep building their businesses, they have to keep feeding their families, and it’s a question of them just getting financial help to get over the hump.” He agrees that since these are gifted people, there are companies that would hire them out of their ventures, which would leave Greece’s entrepreneurial environment impoverished of young talent.
Arey emphasized these are grants, not investments – THI is a not-for-profit –but the grants ensure survival “to enable them to hit their stride so that they can succeed,“ he added, and have the chance to attract investors.
The work and benefits of the groups now active in Greece are interconnected and mutually reinforcing.
TNH asked Arey about THI’s own programs. “We have Venture Garden, were startups really begin. You have an idea in your head, and it teaches you how to create a business out of an idea. They can then go to an incubator, like egg, and grow – and then they can come to our Venture Fair in Athens, where they can find investors.” He said companies have already received funding through the 2015 event and noted that participants add to their skillsets on how to get more funding.
In March, THI will fund the participation of 30 companies to the South by Southwest, the huge cultural and commercial festival held annually in Austin, TX, and it will also fund a pitch competition and an investor party.
“One entrepreneur who succeeds will not save the Greek economy, but he or she will employ 10 people, and impact more people,” and a successful young entrepreneur will encourage others.
BUILDING THE BANDWAGON
Arey spoke about the importance keeping the diaspora informed about the success of such initiatives. “As the Omogenia – the Greek-American community – gains confidence that they are making a difference in Greece I believe the tremendous resources of the diaspora can be unleashed,” he said, adding, “The great thing about the Omogenia is that it’s not so large that we can’t find ways of working together and having an impact.”
Deputy CEO of Eurobank Group Stavros Ioannou welcomed this new collaboration with THI: “Eurobank and The Hellenic Initiative join forces in order to boost entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas of our country’s youth, and help these unique minds to stay in their homeland and introduce their original ideas, which will create opportunities for a better future for many more in Greece. We share the same vision: to help in the creation of a better tomorrow, as the brilliant minds we host in egg deserve.”