With a youth unemployment rate around 50 per cent, Greece presents its young people with a stark choice: Emigrate and join a brain drain to Western Europe and beyond, or stay in their homeland and struggle against long odds to find a livelihood. The country’s recession-battered traditional industries have little to offer, so for many young people, the coveted prize has become a government job, obtained through the sponsorship of a political party.
But some are trying to draw instead on the country’s mercantile roots to build businesses of their own, despite all the impediments.
At least a half-dozen small-business incubators and co-working spaces – buildings in which entrepreneurs can rent space cheaply and benefit from proximity to one another – have sprung up in Athens, nurturing new companies with up to about 20 employees.
A number of philanthropic organizations have sponsored contests and awarded seed money to young Greek entrepreneurs. Among them is the Hellenic Initiative, a non-profit that receives support from Greeks abroad.