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The Knowledge Entrepreneur - Greece - 1

Mr R was born in Germany of Italian parents. At the age of 3 Mr R and his family returned to their home country Italy, where he grew up on a farm. He was eager to learn more about farming and agriculture and so decided to study Agriculture at university. His family had a strong entrepreneurial background, as both his parents had run their own business in the past. While studying at university, Mr R started his own agricultural business based on the manufacture of herbal products, which ran for ten years. Following that, he got involved in academic research at the University and concurrently taught in professional schools and gave seminars about organic farming.

Mr R came to Greece in 2001 with his partner, who is of Greek descent. He successfully adapted to Greek culture – mainly because of the similarities between Italian and Greek cultures. Initially Mr R faced some problems with the language and in finding a job in the agriculture industry. Also, the practices followed by Greek agriculturists differed from the ones followed by the Italians. For this reason, Mr R completed all the necessary procedures to get his academic and professional qualifications recognized by the Greek state, registered with the national registry of Agriculturists and commenced a professional career in his domain of expertise.

After this initial period, Mr R collaborated with a fertilizer corporation based in Italy, and eventually became the company’s official representative in Greece. A few years later, having received a start-up business grant, Mr R developed a wide supply chain network throughout Greece, specializing in the fertilizers and seeds used in organic farming. In 2003 the company was only involved in wholesale trade, but later moved into retail as well. Today, Mr R’s enterprise is based in a large city in Greece, employs one person, and sells fertilizers and seeds to wholesale merchants, and agriculturists.

According to Mr R one of the reasons for the success of his company is that he offered innovative products, and therefore, faced little competition. If he had decided to start up his business in Germany or Italy, where organic farming is much more advanced and the competition between companies is stronger, he would probably not have succeeded so well. The main differences between Greece and Italy are that Greek agriculturists are mostly involved in commerce, whereas Italians are service providers, and that organic farming in Italy is more strongly regulated.

Mr R’s advice to immigrant entrepreneurs wishing to start up their business in Greece is to get in touch with the Greek and foreign chambers of commerce and network with other Greek and immigrant entrepreneurs working in the same sector. Also, Mr R says that immigrant entrepreneurs should pay special attention to legislative issues, because laws often differ between countries. Finally, if someone makes the decision to start up her/his business in Greece, s/he should be very careful in their selection of partners and collaborators and especially in setting payment terms and conditions.

Mr R states that if he could turn time back, he would probably change some of the things he did: for instance, he would have started up with retail sales much earlier than he actually did. Nevertheless, an entrepreneur should look ahead and be able to make any changes needed for the benefit of his enterprise. 

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
© 2011 ELIE Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.