The novel project with which Greece wants to counteract the brain drain

The novel project with which Greece wants to counteract the brain drain

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How to convince qualified professionals to return to Greece?
The story of Antonios Chalkiopoulos is common among many Greeks. After studying in London, he returned to Athens in 2002 and worked as a software engineer. “Then the crisis came,” he says. “I decided to return to the United Kingdom and look for new opportunities.” “Nobody wants Costa Rica to look like Greece”: why “the Switzerland of Central America” ​​is running out of money to pay for essential services Since the near bankruptcy of Greece in 2010, life has been particularly difficult for young Greeks. Now there are some signs of recovery. The economy grew 1.6% in 2017 and the country is expected to complete its rescue program in August. But Unemployment among those under 25 years of age remains at 45%. And for the lucky ones who find work, the options are limited. Average salaries are around 700 euros (US $ 856) per month, and Greece is one of the most expensive and difficult places to start a business in Europe. So, it’s no wonder that up to 180,000 graduates have left the country to look for work in other places in the last eight years. In addition, surveys suggest that up to 76% of adolescents are considering studying or working abroad.

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Unemployment among young people under 25 is still 45%.
“This massive migration is different from the others that we have had before because it is a real qualitative flight,” says Aliki Mouriki of the National Center for Social Research in Greece. ” People with the highest educational level are leaving and the United Kingdom and Germany are benefiting when they have not paid a single euro for their education. ” The flight of human capital or “brain drain” can weigh heavily on the economies of the poorest countries. But now there are projects that make professionals like Chalkiopoulos think about going home. Venture out His software company Landoop, which he founded in London, last year received a US $ 1 million investment from Marathon Venture Capital, a venture capital fund aimed specifically at Greek entrepreneurs. Beneficiaries must spend about half of the cash they receive in their country of origin and be part of their team and company there. “The crisis in Greece can only be solved by a miracle” A venture capital firm is created by a group of investors, banks or wealthy financial institutions that group together to invest in one or more new companies and help them take off. The company usually expects to be given shares in return. Panos Papadopoulos, administrator of Marathon Venture Capital, wants to use the skills that migrants get abroad to help build those same opportunities within Greece.

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The economic crisis in Greece sparked gigantic protests.
The Marathon fund receives between 50 and 90% of its capital from the Greek government, the European Investment Fund and the European Investment Bank. These public entities have invested US $ 320 million in nine different venture capital companies. There is no place like home How to convince someone to expand their business in a country where the economic outlook and the business environment are still bleak? According to Astyanax Kanakakis, executive director and co-founder of Norbloc, a technology firm based in Stockholm, Sweden, and one of the first companies in which Marathon invested, it is an emotional decision linked to the feeling of home. “I have lived in many different countries and Athens is still the place at what else me sient or as in home” , He says. “Most of my friends who have returned have done so out of nostalgia, not because they had a great business opportunity,” he says. Papadopoulos, from Marathon, agrees: “it’s something emotional, it’s easier to build trust if you have the same language and experiences.” Why despite the rescues and austerity the Greek economy can not get out of its deep crisis This investor also believes that the entrepreneurs he works with help to create better opportunities for other Greeks. When they offered the investment, Kanakakis, from Norbloc, was already looking to open a location that was well placed to visit clients in both Europe and the Middle East, so the opportunity “made sense”.

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Many young professionals return to Greece for nostalgia, rather than for great business opportunities.
Your company now has seven employees in Greece. Some of them worked abroad before and wanted to return to their country. However, Kanakakis describes the process of establishing a subsidiary in Greece as “extremely difficult” . “If I had been a new businessman, I do not know if I would have taken all the trouble,” he laments. No leak, no gain Some academics argue that countries can benefit from the flight of human capital when workers return with new skills. “If people return, they make up for the leak, since they will bring not only professional skills, but also social and personal skills,” says Mouriki, from the National Center for Social Research in Greece. The man who dedicated 23 years of his life to solve the strange conflict for a term that divides Greece and Macedonia However, Devesh Kapur, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, is skeptical about the extent to which venture capital could help the economies of developing countries. “(This market) is still very small for most countries, we have to have a sophisticated technological sector and human capital, there must already be fertile ground for any venture capital industry to take off,” he says. This model is also not suitable for all entrepreneurs, according to Kanakakis, of Norbloc. “By stipulating that the employer must spend a certain amount of money in Greece, they force him to make a business decision and it may not be the right time for his company to make that decision,” he says.

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The Greek economy shows slow signs of recovery, as having grown 1.6% in 2017.
Marathon has already invested in five companies and is in the process of financing two more. In addition, it has created 20 technology jobs in Greece. The lessons that our economy today can learn from the collapse of the ancient city of Troy In the next four years, it plans to finance 20 companies in total. “If we succeed, we will have two or three companies that employ about 1,000 people each,” says Papadopoulos, of this capital firm. Kanakakis adds that he feels “cautiously optimistic” and hopes that “projects like this will cause changes in mentalities that will later spread.” You can read the original note in English on BBC

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