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SIE Interviews Reload Greece

The Reload Greece Conference aimed to produce new insights into the current challenges of Greece’s Economic Development and inspire the next generation to create innovative enterprises contributing to a new jumpstart. The conference was hosted by the Hellenic Center of London, on the 22nd of September 2012, with the support of the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.

The Reload Greece initiative was triggered by a group of Greek students and recent graduates who live in London and want to inspire the new generation of Greeks to think and act differently, in response to the negative economic developments in Greece and driven by the desire to be the generation that makes an impact, even in one of the most difficult of times. Greece is currently facing many difficulties that hinder its development, however the event’s organizers are convinced things are reversible. It has a valuable untapped resource in its youth and a great potential to be a country that efficiently utilizes its resources and acts strongly on its entrepreneurial activity, which will make it capable to compete on an international level. The conference aims to set the first stepping stone of a series of discussions around what Greece should and can really become.

The subjects discussed included: the role of the State and how it can change to aid entrepreneurship, the sectors of opportunity for innovation and development in Greece and the reality of being an entrepreneur (leadership and business skills).

Reload Greece is being delivered by a group of Greek graduates in the UK. Your website describes you as realistic optimists. Could you say a bit more about that?

We believe that no other phrase than “realistic optimists” could describe us better. We realize that these are not the best days for our country. We realize that the young generation of Greece is pessimistic, they live in fear of uncertainty and that the current instability of the country has impacted their dreams for anything creative.

What we envision is for Reload Greece to become a new source of inspiration for these people in order to help them see far and beyond the crisis. We want to help them see the endless possibilities and capabilities that our generation has to change the situation. Above all, we want to prove to the world that with optimism and hard work everything can happen. Even in one of the most difficult times for our country.

The goal of this conference is to encourage young Greeks to ‘think and act differently’ in relation to the negative economic climate. How are young Greeks thinking and acting now? How do you see it changing for the better?

Young Greeks need to start thinking differently. For years, finding a job in the public sector seemed to be the preferred career path as it supposedly offered financial security for life. This no longer is the case but what Reload Greece is trying to promote is a different outlook altogether. By adopting a more innovative and entrepreneurial approach, the new generation of Greeks can overcome the financial obstacles brought by the crisis. We must understand that the times we are living in are difficult ones but the situation is not irreversible. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’, this phrase by Charles Dickens is the best description of our philosophy; we believe that while the crisis might have caused the financial destabilisation of our country, it has also created the much needed conditions for innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to bloom.

Why are you holding the conference in London?

The aim of the conference is to bring the Greeks and supporters of Greece together in order to showcase our country through our own perspective. Despite the fact that all the members of the team live abroad, we are still Greeks. We love our country and we want to see it thriving again. And we know it can since Greece has a valuable untapped resource in its youth: roughly a tenth of the population (1.1 million people) is under 25 and another 1.5 million is aged between 25 and 34.

The problem is that the vast majority of this highly qualified generation lives abroad and is unwilling to return due to the “lack of opportunities”. What we are saying is that there are opportunities, what is missing is the right information. We hope that our initiative will be one to motivate our peers, suggest viable solutions, illustrate where the real opportunities of our country lie and how we can utilise them.

We don’t want to stand apathetic. We don’t want to leave the country in despair but want to see the change and be part of it. We don’t want to be the lost generation but the one that makes an impact, even in one of the most difficult of times.

What do you think the concrete impact of this conference will be in a year… in three years? How long do you think it will take to ‘reload’ Greece? What will this look like in real terms when it happens?

Reload Greece aims to set the first stepping stone of a series of discussions around what Greece should and can really become.  On the 22nd of September we want to deliver much more than a lecture style conference; our aim is for people to leave the room with practical knowledge and skills on how to make change happen!  At the core of the problem in Greece is not only the economy but rather the mentality and this is very difficult to change fast.  Our goal is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among our peers, the next generation of Greece, and convince them that there is a valid reason to return to our home country; to create their own start-up. Creating small business in Greece will increase the flow of capital in the country, which in the long run, will help to Reload Greece.

Our answer to the second part of the question is that the Reloading process will obviously take some time and it’s not easy to describe what this will look like. But in our opinion, if after a few years one or more of the people who will join us on the 22nd have managed to create their own successful businesses, then the conference will be described as an impactful one.