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The damage from arson exceeds 22 million. Young entrepreneurs put creativity to anger

24 February 2012 / 22:02:06  GRReporter
2515 reads

Victoria Mindova

Insurance companies in Greece will have to pay 2 million euro in compensation to those damaged by the riots and fires of 12 February, when parliament adopted the second bailout agreement. So far, 200 requests for compensation have been received, the damaged being mainly bank branches in downtown Athens. The Association of Insurance Companies has specified that the claims are not for 200 different buildings, because many properties are insured in two or three different companies. Insurance experts estimate that the total damage from the recent destructive riots will reach 25 million. Among the 17 bank branches burned, the most damaged is the building of Alpha Bank on Athinas Street and its insurance must be covered by the insurance giant AXA.

If the amount of destruction is increased by the compensations, which has not yet paid to Sprider Stores that burned to the ground last year, insurance companies in Greece must roughly pay at least 37 million euro to the victims. Besides the fabulous cost of repairing the damage, the image of Athens has once again been seriously tarnished. Dozens of business conferences and private tourist bookings were cancelled, which deprived the economy in crisis of vital resources.

However, Athens Entrepreneurship Week was not cancelled. It was organized by the head of the European Federation of Young Entrepreneurs Dimitris Tsigos, who is also the founder of the Hellenic Start ups Association. The forum inevitably discussed the problems in society and how excesses such as those of 12 February could be prevented in the future.

"The corrupt political system of Greece is supported by corrupt economic oligarchy. The country is not five minutes away from disaster. It has already happened. But how can we change the situation, if we set fire to a bank? How much do we endanger the system with such an action?"asked Tsigos rhetorically. He said the only effective way to replace the old rotten system is by allowing as many people as possible to believe in themselves; to convey the knowledge of how to become independent from the system and to start their own business. He stressed that the energy poured out during meetings and protests has to be transformed into a creative force. The first step is to make people understand the opportunities ahead and how to use them to create something of their own. "From this perspective, all of us who are successful in one sphere or another have an obligation to share our knowledge with others." That is why Dimitris Tsigos did not cancel the week of young entrepreneurs, which has become extremely popular.

The forum was attended by many young entrepreneurs from different European countries. With minimal resources, but a lot of enthusiasm, they have started various business ventures. Some of them are successful, others have reached an impasse, which, however, has not prevented them from seeking new ways of expression.

Alvaro Cuesta from Spain is a young lawyer who shortly after graduating, created a successful company helping disadvantaged people . As an additional activity, he decided to open a business incubator (as he calls it) or a training centre for young entrepreneurs in a seedy neighbourhood of Madrid. He called it "Garage" because it is in an old garage built in the 1940s. With minimal resources, it has been transformed into a modern space, where young people gather to be trained, as they are willing to start their own business but lack basic economic knowledge. The project has developed its own eco-recycling programme and offered opportunities to many young Spaniards. They have learned what it takes to start their own business, how to make a business plan, where they can find funding and how to make use of the various private and government programmess to give  impetus to their activity.

According to Cuesta, the educational system particularly in Spain and in other European countries is highly inefficient in preparing young people for real life. When students leave university, their entrepreneurial spirit is absolutely crushed, explained the successful businessman. "The level of unemployment in young people in Spain proves it too - over 50% of them are outside the labour market," he pointed out. Young people feel betrayed by the political system and their inability to adequately overcome the growing obstacles makes them turn to blind rage. This rage is expressed in a destructive force that is periodically unleashed on the streets of big European cities or in criminal acts, but it does not lead to any positive change in the factors that provoke this rage.

The young Spanish entrepreneur told about his experiences with the Madrid movement of discontent. "We decided to invite to our meetings some of the people who were at the protest in the square. We did not contact those who supported violence, but ordinary citizens who were simply dissatisfied with the system." The result was that about ten people had attended the seminars in the "Garage" and some of them have started to plan how to realize their own projects. "The business incubator is a place of birth of entrepreneurial ideas, because when you are useful to yourself, you are useful to society too." Young entrepreneurs are adamant that there is nothing wrong with making money as long as your activities are useful to others. They call it responsible capitalism. They encourage young and not so young entrepreneurs to seek people like them, because social relationships with people with similar goals give rise to the emergence of the best ideas.

Tags: EconomyCompaniesEntrepreneursYoung businessmanGreeceMadrid
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