ATHENS – The Hellenic Initiative (THI) shared an update on its efforts in Greece, as THI Executive Director Peter Poulos noted via email, “2021 was a year of great accomplishments.”
“We were able to host both our London and New York Galas in person and with all available safety measures in place,” Poulos continued. “The Galas broke all previous records and our supporters had the chance to once again meet face to face, and dance arm in arm. The success of our in-person events and online fundraising campaigns allowed us to increase our grants significantly in 2021.”
“In December, we awarded Greek companies $285,000 in grants, through our Venture Impact Awards, to help scale their businesses,” Poulos noted. “And THI’s Regeneration program broke its own record by placing 63 Greeks in jobs with 54 hiring partners, (25 of those new to the program) in just one week last November. A THI grant of $30,000 to Mazi Yia to Paidi raised our overall support of the organization to $500,000. And an $80,000 grant to Apiceuticals is helping bee farmers re-establish their colonies and livelihoods after the devastating summer fires of 2021. These are just a few examples of how we are using your contributions to help build the New Greece.”
“We promise to keep you posted of all our goings-on for 2022 and of all the ways we invest your valuable contributions on the ground in Greece helping those in need and creating jobs,” he said.
“And as we begin the new year I would like to thank all of THI’s donors, volunteers, our dedicated board of directors, and our extremely talented and hardworking staff. Oli Mazi,” Poulos concluded.
Among those mentioned in the update are Niki Lalioti and Ileana Ismyridi, the co-founders of MomCycle, the first dedicated resale marketplace in Greece for babies’ and kids’ products, who have made upcycling and recycling desirable and easier. MomCycle won the 2021 Envolve Entrepreneurship Award and aims at expanding in international markets in the future – driven by innovation and compassion. Lalioti was impressed by THI, “not only by what they do in Greece, but the way they involve the Diaspora, inspiring people to care about what is happening in Greece… informing people not only about the Greek Crisis and the problems but about people who are making a difference in our society.”
Nikos Roumeliotis and his brother Billy, create highly effective potent and antioxidant bee skincare products through their company, Apiceuticals. Their company made its breakthrough into the vital American market with the help of THI. In 2019 they entered the Venture Fair competition, making the top 10, then the top three.
“I don’t have words to describe how THI helped our company,” Nikos said. “I also hear stories from other companies they have helped. The key is that THI really understands the problems of startup companies and their needs. They bring real solutions… and THI gives you exposure – they put you in front of the right people and they help you become more financially healthy, creating more jobs.”
“Before I met THI, I never expected Apiceuticals would reach the U.S. – we had the dream, the aspiration to be global brand, but if you don’t get before the right people, nobody knows about you,” Roumeliotis said. “THI gave us so much exposure – more than in our wildest dreams – and with the Venture Impact Awards we received financial support that was crucial – during the pandemic we had only expenses. It was a very good helping hand.”
THI has been supporting VentureGarden, Greece’s #1 business mentoring program, for the last seven years. Yanna Anastasaki created VALUE, a 360-degree digital agency based in Athens. The team consists of specialized strategists, designers, web developers and marketing specialists who work closely with its clients to develop personalized digital marketing strategies and plans, leading awareness, interaction, and sales.
Having the vision to develop and establish a sustainable business, Anastasaki was constantly aiming to improve her skills and develop her knowledge. That’s why she chose to enroll in the VentureGarden program. There, she found room for theoretical and practical training. She also realized how much potential for her business and herself there was.
With the COVID pandemic surging in Greece, threatening family health, and being a drag on economic recovery, the vulnerability of children continues. THI’s donations to organizations like ‘Mazi Gia to Pedi – Together for Children’ (TFC) are more important than ever. TFC’s mission is “to provide immediate and effective support to children, families, and individuals with disabilities who are in need.” With the most recent donation of $30,000 to TFC, the total contributions of THI have surpassed $500,000.
Metadrasi was the first organization in Greece to set up a transitional accommodation for unaccompanied minors on the islands, with the help of THI. “If someone had told me two years ago that I would be where I am today, I would not have believed them. I hardly believe it now,” said Eric who left his country in fear for his life at the age of 16. After a horrific journey, exhausted and terrified, he was found by Metadrasi on the shores of Chios. He is now studying economics in France.
More information is available online: thehellenicinitiative.org.