Greece, social enterprise and crowdfunding

Parthenon

I was recently invited by the British Council to speak about crowdfunding engagement for social entreprenuers in Athens on behalf of SoLoCo and BOLD.

Greece has been going through a tough time socially and economically for a while now, though excitingly an increasing undercurrent of optimism, creativity and entreprenuerialism is beginning to peek through.  At the forefront of this is a focus on social enterprise, and special thanks can be given to the support of the British Council in this area.

Because it is still a relatively young movement (‘Doing Business the Other Way’ was only the second Social Enterprise focused conference in Greece to date) there are issues with the infrastructure and particularly funding, which the government and other agencies are looking to address.  For instance, there are no appropriate legal structures; either you are an NGO or a private business, so grant funding for anything in between is complicated if not non-existent.  However, this could be a good thing in the longer term. If the movement starts without a dependency on grants, the sector will start off much healthier than ours here in the UK for instance, and will have longevity. This is where crowdfunding fits in well and could be very successful.  And here’s why.

The Greek diaspora has in excess of 10million people globally – only 1million less than who still live in the country. These are engaged first, second and third generation individuals who are looking back at their home country and are hugely sympathetic to the troubles the inhabitants are going through.  While doing some research into this I came across this article on Behance where American-Greek Lefteris Tsironis wanted to crowdfund the actual country

Born in a Greek-American family of entrepreneurs, I am inspired to find a way to kickstart the economy of my parents’ homeland – Greece. Having been to Greece over a dozen times over the years for studies and holidays, I have a personal connection to the country…For some reason, this small nation with a population of 11 million, seems to impact the sociopolitical and economic stability on both a European and global level. For me, it is a raw living inspiration and case study for sociologists, anthropologists, politicalanalysts, economists, scientists, artists, etc (as it has continued to be from ancient times). ”

He wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Since then, John Chatzimpeis has since founded Give & Fund a Greek reward-based platform aimed at supporting those who want to make a change to their country.  But we know that the platform is only the technology. It is the individuals/ projects themselves that must do the hard work and find their diaspora, their target market. Those projects/ ideas/ businesses that are pitched effectively will inspire will get the ‘thumbs up’ from a crowd who, if engaged sufficiently, will become ‘their’ crowd.

So this is where everyone in the crowdfunding arena globally can help by sharing the appropriate tools, methodology and experience to those entrepreneurs and charities trying to change their circumstances. And its not just Greece, now entrepreneurs in economically challenged countries (either through recession or in post-war conflict zones) have a chance to get a leg up and be visible to those who want to and are able to help.  These are exciting times, so watch this space.

For anyone interested, here’s my presentation!