The fourth annual Reload Greece Conference took place in London on Saturday 28th October.
The Unstoppable Generation: Hacking Entrepreneurship into a Culture brought together a wide range of stakeholders to explore and debate how a mindset of entrepreneurism can be hacked into a culture to create long term and sustainable change. RG Conference17 engaged a powerful international community of distinguished speakers to explore ideas that will help to create a culture of innovation and build vital new opportunities. The event bought together leading academics, professionals and entrepreneurs to address the shift away from entrepreneurship as a success vehicle for the few, to entrepreneurship as a mindset that can be applied by the many, for the common good.
It was a dynamic day of engaging speakers and inspirational debate, in today’s blog we cover some of the key highlights.
Simeon Djankov (Director, London School of Economics and ex-Minister of Finance, Bulgaria), creator of the World Bank’s Doing Business Series, shared his insights on how developing an entrepreneurial culture can play a pivotal role towards a country’s rapid development. As Djankov discussed how governments could encourage entrepreneurship, he highlighted the important impact of low taxes for entrepreneurs.
Dr Charity Wayua (Research Scientist & Manager, IBM Africa’s Research Lab & trusted advisor to the Kenyan government) shared how Kenyans worked together to transform their homeland. She reiterated the important role of diaspora: “when you get exposed to a different culture, you start asking questions for the way your country operates. You start challenging the status quo. This is the first step to bringing change in your country, to giving back to your home country.”
The EIB and EIF took part in a panel discussion on how they are investing in Greece and how the Greek entrepreneurial ecosystem can leverage funding.
“This year we will sign finance contracts with public & private sector Greek entities to the value of around 2 Billion Euros. We are re-orientating our lending to the private sector and financing initiatives to retain or attract back scientific talent in Greece.” Nicholas Jennett, Deputy Director General, European Investment Bank
“Around 80 Million Euros will be invested in seed & startup finances, particularly in the technology sector, around 200-300 startup companies may benefit from equity finances.” Ioannis Tsakiris, Head of Division, European Investment Fund
Gordon Innes (Economic Development, Bloomberg Associates) has worked with governments to help cities equip themselves for the future. Gordon discussed the pillars on which successful entrepreneurial ecosystems can be built. He highlighted the work they had been doing with the Mayor of Athens stating, “The focus has always been on the building blocks of entrepreneurism in the city.”
Inspirational entrepreneurs shared stories about how their entrepreneurial attitude is having a positive impact on social, economic and environmental conditions. Aimilios Chalamandaris, CEO of Innoetics (who were acquired by Samsung Electronics in 2017, consisting the first start-up acquisition of Samsung Electronics in Europe) shared how start-ups can follow their lead of building global and sustainable businesses in Greece. “The key takeaway from our experience is persistence – be extrovert and don’t be afraid to be competitive against bigger companies”. After his session, Aimilios said “RG Conference is a unique initiative that brings together key stakeholders from industry and the startup scene alongside people who want to make a difference in Greece’s future, I am excited and honored to have participated“.
Diana Voutyrakou, Founder of Unique Minds (at just 22 years old, Diana has received worldwide recognition for her work in the field of robotics) shared her inspirational story of how she broke through the stereotypes and created a social enterprise. “Find your own unique path. Never be afraid of taking risks, learn from experience & chase your dreams – be unstoppable!“
RG Conference17 included four interactive breakout sessions in which attendees discussed how entrepreneurship could be hacked into the Financial, Tourism, Energy and Corporate sectors. Over the day, six Reload Greece alumni start-ups also pitched their business and networked with attendees; this was an invaluable opportunity to help connect them with a powerful network of contacts and create more impact.
Effie Kyrtata (Reload Greece CEO) “We have a lot to learn from how other countries have successfully built entrepreneurial cultures. Examples from Estonia, UK, France, Kenya and Bulgaria proved that some values are consistently important; accountability, a collective vision, and educating young people on entrepreneurship. Reload Greece is building a community of young people who want to bring this change in our country’s entrepreneurial culture. I welcome our Conference participants and the wider public to engage with our work and further enhance this journey of the unstoppable generation!’’
We’ll be writing more blogs about RG Conference17 but in the meantime, you can watch all of the RG Conference17 session videos here and if you’d like to find out more about our work, you can sign up for our newsletters here.
RG Conference17 Partner – Piraeus Bank
RG Conference Supporters – Freshfields, the National Bank of Greece & OTE