With the Greek crisis still dominating the news and uncertainty around the country’s future and possible ‘Grexit’ from Europe, London-based Greeks are making their own luck through the Reload Greece programme.
‘Reloaders’ aspire to create and fund innovative ideas that will promote job opportunities in a not-so-promising time for the Greek community, both ex-pats and those in Greece.
They’re bringing hope to young communities and are broadening horizons by linking ex-pats with young people in Greece to build an optimistic outlook for the future.
What started out as a team of five volunteers has evolved to a team of 30, in London and abroad, in an effort to create and develop globally innovative opportunities.
Olga Vagiakakou, the brand and marketing manager, 28, from Fulham, said: “We were frustrated by the fact that the majority of young Greeks were leaving their country in search of better luck around the world.
“We came up with Reload Greece, the hub of youth entrepreneurship in London in order to encourage the creation of new enterprises that create employment and otherwise benefit the community.”
Despina Gloumi-Atsalaki, the events and HR Manager, 28, also from Fulham, explains that Reload Greece acts as a community through which people and innovative ideas are brought together.
“From entrepreneurs to investors, to mentors and advisors, we connect ideas with knowledge and resources, we educate, we re-inspire,” she said.
“During this time, 90% of attendees have reported increased enthusiasm about entrepreneurship and 60% left determined to take action.”
So far more than £200,000 has been raised by ventures benefiting from Reload Greece’s approach, leading to 15 new jobs created in both Greece and the UK.
Most of the action’s mentors, investors and members are based in Greece and the team remains closely connected with them and keeps the momentum going.
“Reload Greece has received £100,000 monetary and in-kind donations from 180 individuals, 13 corporate sponsorships and five charitable foundations,” said Olga.
The aim is to provide Reloaders with exposure to international mind-sets and offer them a better understanding of the opportunities of the Greek entrepreneurial environment.
Reloaders also try to promote the country, Greek ideas and talent, especially during such a difficult period when people are likely to form opinions through the images promoted by the media without looking at the whole picture.
“That is not to say that we haven’t as a nation helped them form these opinions in our own ways,” said Despina, 28.
“But the key here and the challenge for us is to educate and help change mentalities, bad habits and the culture in Greece in general where this has a negative impact on us as a country and on our future of course.
“It is not just the history, the education, the culture and all the other wonderful things that Greece is known for around the world.
“Now more than ever it is about nurturing talent, fostering ideas and helping the charismatic youth of our country to use their knowledge in order to shape the business environment and feel proud again.”
Olga believes that the crisis and all that came with it has been the catalyst for young entrepreneurs and curious people full of ideas to find the courage to re-invent themselves.
She said: “Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom in order to give things some perspective, find new ways of working and be inventive again.”
Through the continuous contributions from volunteers and investors, the future of Reload Greece seems very promising with a looming funding for the next three-year business plan.
They are now actively fundraising to double the amount of donations in order to come one step closer to their vision of the future.
Picture courtesy of Lars Plougmann, with thanks