Theodoros Skylakakis, a Greek Member of the European Parliament from the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats (ALDE) hosted a conference on Success Stories Made in Greece to show there’s more than a crisis going on in the country. It was attended by Maria Damanaki, Greece’s European Commissioner.
Damanaki said that the memorandum Greece signed with international lenders, and which she supports, has caused great damage to its society and the economy. She also said that it is essential to restore entrepreneurship, difficult in Greece where those with good ideas are often discouraged.
Antonios Karatzis, CEO of Karatzis, a company which produces packaging materials, gave advice based on how he made his company profitable and said the main problems for new business developers in Greece are high interest rates, fuel costs and cheap imports flooding the Greek market, particularly from China and other parts of Asia.
Paul Efmorfidis, the owner of Coco-Mat, which produces mattresses from natural products, gave a passionate presentation in which he said he traveled about Europe to learn languages and culture and didn’t care how much money he made.
He said that Greeks have habits that are difficult to change and are different from North Europeans, who often deride Greeks as lazy. He said successful businesses need a long-term plan instead of concentrating on immediate profit.
Konstandinos Domazakis, owner and Chairman of Creta Farm, and George Korres, who has made Korres natural cosmetics an international brand, talked about how they became successful. Domazakis said his company is a world leader in low feat meat and olive oil. Korres explained briefly how his pharmacy with homeopathic products soon became an attraction in Athens and how he started exporting his products to the United Kingdom and U.S. He said his company is working to rehabilitate former drug users and that Korres is the only company in the world which makes basic research in herbs.
ALDE Director Wolf Klinz and Daniel Gros spoke about the efforts Greece has undertaken up to now to reform it’s economy and both predicted that the recovery will take not one or two but many years to come. They also referred to the issue of importing cheap products from China and other low-cost countries and made the proposal for Greece to stop operating in the same sectors in which those countries compete and to direct its efforts in research.