More Greeks tried their luck at entrepreneurship last year than in 2018, a trend that appears to be related to the growth trajectory the country had managed to achieve before it was abruptly stopped in spring 2020 by the pandemic, according to the latest annual report on entrepreneurship in Greece that the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) presented on Wednesday.
The question now is not whether the pandemic will continue to hamper the swing toward entrepreneurship, but rather whether it will affect the quality features of future businesses, creating solutions and opportunities due to the new needs generated.
This last matter could prove decisive, as in 2019 it emerged that the new business ventures mostly recycled Greece’s old production model: Most of them (42.1%) belonged to the commerce sector (wholesale and retail) while only 4.4% of them were of moderate or high technological intensity.
Regarding the impact of the pandemic, IOBE Director General Nikos Vettas pointed out that preliminary data show there has been no containment of the growth momentum of new enterprises, stressing that the crucial factors for entrepreneurship are the way the government’s recovery plan will be implemented and the decisions of the European Union about the return of fiscal rules.
The report, presented by the scientific director of the IOBE Entrepreneurship Observatory, Aggelos Tsakanikas, showed that the share of the population aged 18-64 to enter the early stages of business activity in 2019 came to 8.2% (some 536,000 people). This compares to 6.4% (418,000) the year before. That rate ranks among the highest ever for Greece, even though it lags the average of high-income countries, which rose to 12.3% last year from 10.1% in 2018.
Almost 44% of early-stage entrepreneurs (up from 37% in 2018) did actually start a new venture, which they operated for at least three months, with the rest still being in the preparation stage when the survey was carried out. Relatives and friends remain the main sources of their funding, the report also showed.