Businessmen out of necessity

Greeks open businesses mainly out of necessity rather than opportunity, according to a survey released yesterday, while the government said it is determined to create a more entrepreneur-friendly environment. The study was conducted by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) in Greece under the guidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), which allow for the comparison of figures on entrepreneurial activity among different countries. IOBE’s survey, which covered 2003, found that many Greeks are forced to start their own businesses because they have no other way of making a living. Just under 7 percent of Greeks started a business in the previous 42 months or were in the process of setting one up. This placed Greece 16th out of 31 countries, mostly from the developed world. The report found that a new business in Greece is owned, on average, by 1.5 people, among the lowest for all the countries surveyed. IOBE says that only 16.1 percent of the entrepreneurial activity in Greece could be considered «high potential» – meaning it could contribute to the expansion of markets, help create more jobs and increase exports. The survey ranks Greece 17th in this category. Funding for Greek entrepreneurs in 2003 reached some 6 billion euros. Most of this money was put up by the entrepreneurs themselves, with over 70 percent of it coming from their families. Reacting to the survey, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said more needed to be done to encourage entrepreneurs. He broadly outlined measures to reduce corporate taxes, provide incentives for small and medium-sized businesses and cut down on bureaucracy. He said these measures would be included in a development bill to be put to Parliament soon.