Nations, as man-made entities, often operate like humans: just as a tragic event changes the life of a person forever, so a historical event changes the course of a nation fundamentally. The latest Kapa Research survey on Economy and Development in Greece, shows that the crisis of 2010 and its consequences seem to change not only the lives of Greeks but also the fundamental economic approach of the country, in the same way that the hyperinflation of the 1920s and the Second World War worked for Germany. Two key research findings underpin the above assumption: the socio-political dimension of Unemployment, and the New Entrepreneurial Model that has begun to emerge for those who are interested in starting their own business.
Unemployment. The effort to reduce the 1,280,101 unemployed will determine the character of the country in the coming decades, just as the assimilation of one million or more refugees in 1922 sealed the Greek ethnogenesis until World War II, and as the integration of more than one million Greek immigrants and other nationalities of the South established the postwar reconstruction of the West. Thus, every effort for a productive reconstruction of the country begins from this New Margin, which formed recently within Greek society, and which comprises the long-term unemployed (3 years), those who are exposed to poverty and vulnerability, though educated, those who are in the most rudimentary form of employment, those who are afraid to face the bureaucratic mechanisms of the state and, finally, those who are confronted with the impasse.
It is in this environment of decay – and because of it – an impressive rise of entrepreneurship is recorded in the values scales of the Greek society. This New Entrepreneurial Model, however, is completely different from that of more advanced economies. Starting from the areas showing a competitive advantage in an open, global system, Greece is associated with natural environment (geopolitical location, tourist destinations, climate etc.), history, and the accumulated knowledge capital (Greek scientists). According to public opinion, the sectors that will contribute the most to economic development are those related to natural resources and culture, on which the country’s tourism industry is based. Farmer producer, businessman,young scientist, tourism and maritime professions are all considered the jobs of the future, superseding academics, artists, trade unionists, and journalists; professions that enjoyed high demand in the past.
Entrepreneurship is a solution for survival, an alternative plan for unemployment or job insecurity, but at the same time an investment opportunity created by the crisis: 23.5% is the percentage of respondents who are considering to start their own business, which will employ 0-9 people (84.9%), seeking funds from the family – parent environment (31.4%) or from own resources (11.2%), the NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework), the Development Act (42 9%), and from banks (25.2%), and plans to be active in those sectors of production that exploit the particular geographic and cultural characteristics of the country.
The majority of potential entrepreneurs are young, up to 45 years old, highly educated (undergraduate and graduate degrees) currently working as private employees, and in the case of the unemployed, they previously had a paid job in the private sector. It is those people who have assimilated more than any other social group the profound changes brought by theMemorandum in the labor market, and have obvious outward orientation, thereby considering globalization as an opportunity for the Greek economy, business, consumption / quality of life.
This new “wave” of entrepreneurship is the only realistic development plan for the country, as the anticipation of big foreign investments proved too long, and employment in the public sector prohibitive. In this respect, a partnership between the State and the four systemic banks is almost a one-way: the banks can practically support healthy, sustainable and competitive entrepreneurship from people who may not have the skills, but represent the new standard of the Greek economy. The State, for its part, will have to remove the traditional shortcomings of the Greek government – bureaucracy, complex and unstable tax system – that restrain the operation of the free market.
Today, trade unions, political parties and politicians are the major agents of “Counter-reform”. The political system of the country is characterized by consistent reluctance to assign the requisite autonomy – meaning institutions and tools – to any active subject of the Greek society so that they can take responsibility for their own life and fortune. True reform requires inspired leadership, a critical number of people who want change, imagination, and most of all, effort. Often mentioned by Greek politicians is Winston Churchill’s first speech as prime minister of Britain in 1940, in the House of Commons – when he requested a vote of confidence for his government and called on the country to war – and use the phrase “I promise you only tears and blood” carefully omitting two key words, “toil” and “sweat”. The exact quote is: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”.