- What problems Greek companies faced in Bulgaria during the period in which you chaired the Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria (2009-2011)?
15 years ago, some brilliant people, CEOs of the largest Greek companies operating in Bulgaria, had the idea to create the Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria. The basic principles were to unite all serious Greek investors in Bulgaria through the council, to be extrovert in a manner that their “voice” was to be heard by the Government, and the local media and the society. Also to “restore” the not-so-good name created in the beginning of the 90s by some Greek “investors” who saw in Bulgaria a new “Eldorado”, where they could come for a “quick dollar”, and soon disappear. Also, given the strides Bulgaria has made in the areas of General Legal framework governing the operation of companies, fight against crime, etc. to facilitate new investors, especially the ones who did not have the size and internal procedures to deal with licensing, and modus operandi in the quickly changing and developing environment in Bulgaria.
- What challenges the Council and you, as its Chairman, have encountered, during your term of office?
When I began with my tenure as Chairman of the BoD, I had the privilege to succeed my 2 predecessors, distinguished bankers Messrs. Christos Katsanis and Tony Hassiotis. They were extremely successful and resourceful in overcoming their objectives, developed the council beyond our original expectations, thus “setting the bar” extremely high.
In this respect, during my tenure besides continuing the good work of my predecessors in a hopefully successful manner, special attention and effort was made towards the following
Further raise the voice of our council, and the image of Greek investment in Bulgaria, thus becoming more extrovert, aiming at being “heard” by the authorities, thus straightening our position hopefully up to the modus operandi of the Am Cham, for example.
In the same context, organizing for our members a good number of events like “Meet the Minister” round tables where our members had the opportunity to discuss with the key note speakers Ministers.
We organized in an Athens Hotel a lunch-round table of the Bulgarian President Parvanov with the top Greek investors themselves. Needless to say that in all above activities we had the precious support and cooperation of our Ambassador Ms. Danae Koumanakou.
Also, organized donations to various financially ailing organizations, like schools for the disabled etc.
We tried to improve our operations with a new ERP, and our financials by quickly expanding our membership base and by establishing the “Golden Sponsor” concept, where 4 companies were offered the possibility of promoting their products and services through the HBCB for a fixed fee for a given period of time.
In an attempt to strengthen the bond with SEV (Federation of Industries of Greece) we held meetings with them, aiming at undertaking possible activities in common.
Last but not least, special attention was made towards bringing our members together and networking, aiming also at promoting business cooperation with one another
- Which is your message to the members of the Council today?
Now being back in Greece on pension, I would like to take this opportunity to wish to HBCB, to the BoD and to all members a successful and sustainable further development and progress.
Be all well and stay safe.
Athens, March, 2021