ECONOMY

Opportunities for business rise in limited areas

Entrepreneurship showed both qualitative and quantitative improvements in Greece in 2005, but the basic structural weaknesses remain, a survey released yesterday said. According to the study, «Entrepreneurship in Greece 2005-2006,» unveiled by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) in the presence of Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, 17 percent of Greece’s population aged 18-64 (more than 1.1 million people) are involved in some form of entrepreneurial activity – the third-highest rate in the European Union. Of these, about 700,000 were established businesspeople, the rest being nascent entrepreneurs. About 3 percent in 2005 suspended their business activity, the definition of which includes the self-employed. The study notes that necessity entrepreneurship is falling steadily, as an increasing number of Greeks are turning to business in order to tap emerging opportunities: Only 14.2 percent of nascent or aspiring entrepreneurs said they had turned to business for lack of any other means of making a living. In 2004, the respective rate was almost double and in 2003 it was nearly 40 percent. Permanent weaknesses For the third year in a row, Greece showed a high rate of start-up businesses targeting the consumer (70 percent). According to the IOBE study, this shows the «shallowness» of new entrepreneurship, in the sense that it extends little beyond the last ring of the «value chain.» This was the highest rate in Europe and the third highest in all 35 countries surveyed. «Entrepreneurship in Greece displays certain basic characteristic weaknesses, which repeat themselves with the same intensity every year… The most important factor, which will have a decisive influence, is the radical reforms in all major sectors of business in which we are active, and the gradual reconciliation of society with entrepreneurship,» said Michalis Kortesis, head of IOBE. Sioufas said that the clear positive trend in the entrepreneurial climate was proof that the government’s policies are bearing fruit. In the three years that the IOBE entrepreneurship survey has been conducted it has identified the following main problem areas in Greece: Business opportunities are rare; families play a central role in financing new ventures; fear of failure (the strongest among all countries surveyed); a weak educational system; and society’s dubious attitude toward entrepreneurship.