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November 20, 2017
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Taxibeat office. Photo by Sylvia Diamantopoulos. Source: taxibeat.com

In a cruel twist of fate, the world has watched Greece fall into the depths of recession. On the surface, the culture-rich country is thriving as an ever-popular tourist destination. However, the reality of Greece's economic situation is a story quite different.

When the holiday-makers go home, the country's residents are left to bare the consequences of hosting one of the worst economic recessions the world has ever seen. As Carol Matlack reported for Bloomberg Business Week on Monday, Germany has financed most of the €240 billion in aid pledged to Athens thus far. But despite this, thousands of entrepreneurial businesses are starting up across the economically-depressed land. Greek entrepreneurs are using their creativity to haul the country out of despair and re-create the flourishing economy it once knew.

taxibeat team greece
The team at Taxibeat.
Source: ethnos.gr.

Greece joined the Eurozone in 2001 after the launch of the euro in 1999. By 2009, it had been revealed by the country's deputy finance minister Philippos Sachinidis that Greece had debts of 300 billion euros - the highest in the country's modern history. Since then, the rate of unemployment among Greek residents has steadily increased. 

Of course with reality like that being circulated around you, there would seem to be little appeal for remaining in the country, surrounded by the sense of diminished hope. And for a large part, this assumption is proving correct as more and more young residents opt to leave their native land. While the previous protocol for young people of previous generations was to begin careers in the civil services or large successful companies, for recent graduates and would-be professionals, this is no longer an option.

As Harry Mylonadis highlighted in December 2012 in his article for thenextweb.com, the youth of Greece are facing a serious case of fight or flight. However, the country's younger generation luckily appears to have a strong sense of responsibility towards their native home. There has been a change in attitude among the Greek people. Although perhaps strange for a country so heaped in debt and unemployment, new businesses are emerging across the nation. People are thinking outside the box, looking for niche markets and following through with their own startups. 

Sometimes the best ideas come when your back is against the wall.

Many outsiders may presume the country to be a dead end for professionals in the design industries, but it is these creative people who are prospering most from the current situation. With few pre-destined and secure jobs available to be filled, Greek graduates must engage their creativity in order to come up with brand new and innovative ideas for business launches.

Left with little other option, young Greeks have had to start thinking outside the box. As Nick Drandakis, the founder of one of the new thriving Greek businesses, a taxi locating app called Taxibeat, told CNBC: "Sometimes the best ideas come when your back is against the wall." Entrepreneurship is the key to the success of Greece's future economy and therefore, creative minds have become invaluable.

As Taxibeat exemplifies, the Greek creatives are changing with the times; the future for Greek fashion businesses now largely lies in the realms of the digital - and more specifically, app design - where limitations are few and the market immense. Take Fashinating.com, for example. This Greek fashion startup aims to ease finding the clothes and accessories you want by generating online fashion buys in accordance with your previous choices. The app side of a business such as this, although highly competitive, offers an outlet for unlimited growth and international outreach within an economically-unstable country.

participant at athens startup weekend greece

Participant at Athens Startup Weekend.
Source: facebook.com/AthensStartupWeekendUniversity

Undeniably, with any new business there is a great deal of risk - but this is particularly heightened in a country with an economic situation such as that in Greece. However, the country's entrepreneurs have certainly found their silver lining. Perhaps pulling through the economic downfall and witnessing the struggle faced by their parents, has aided young people to support each other. Throughout the country there are regular startup conferences such as the non-profit organisation Athens Startup Weekend, where budding entrepreneurial businesses come together to share their experiences and pitch ideas. In return, advice is given to help them on their way. 

And the willingness of young people to make a business work - not only for their families' good, but also for their country - is certainly an encouraging element to begin these endeavours. One of many noteworthy success stories from the Athens Startup Weekend initiative is glovo.com. Standing for "global volunteers" the concept aims to give volunteers a platform for finding unique experiences in work, projects and causes to contribute to. Coming second in the conference's 2012 competition, glovo.com cites its core values as "Passion, Responsibility, Integrity, Motivation and Enjoyment", undoubtedly embodying the emerging Greek attitude towards change.

The Greek mindset has certainly evolved with the loss of stability in the country's fiscal, economic and employment sectors. The new generation, however, has seen the need to take urgent action and to make a change of course. With responsibility looming over the heads of Greece's young creatives, there is a sense of new-found hope for the nation as it redesigns its own way into the future.

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