Poll Shows 75% of Greeks Want to Stay in Euro Zone

 By Philip Chrysopoulos  in The GREEK REPORTER

A new poll after the television interview of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shows that the vast majority of Greeks want to stay in the euro zone and are against snap elections, while half of them worry that Greece may leave the euro.

The survey that was conducted by GPO for Mega television shows that 75.6 percent of the Greek population want to stay in the euro at any cost and 72.2 percent are against the idea of going to elections in June if the country fails to come to an agreement with creditors over the Greek debt. Members of the government have suggested to go to polls if there is no “honorable agreement” with lenders.

To the question if the government should strive for a deal instead of going to a rift with European partners, 78.1 percent answered that there should be a deal and 17.9 percent want the government to clash with the European Union.

When participants were asked if they fear a Grexit, 49.4 percent said they do, while 48.9 percent said they don’t believe there is a risk. To the question of what do they think about the Greek strategy in negotiations, 58.3 percent believe that Alexis Tsipras is following the right strategy while 39.8 percent believe his strategy is wrong.

Should the country go to elections, the poll results are similar to the results of the January 25th elections, with the exception of the gap between SYRIZA and New Democracy being wider. Specifically,



The River6.5%

Golden Dawn: 5.5%


???: 5.5%


– See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/04/30/poll-shows-75-of-greeks-want-to-stay-in-euro-zone/#sthash.RcEBc1Lk.dpuf

The Skills Shortage: Mind the Gap

From the Economist


THE Dyson empire in Malmesbury is dominated by a futuristic-looking “campus”. It is now set to get even bigger. Sir James Dyson (pictured), the entrepreneur known for his eponymous vacuum cleaners and “airblade” hand driers, set up shop in the quiet Wiltshire market town in the mid 1990s. Although production shifted to Singapore and Malaysia over a decade ago, everything is still designed and tested in Malmesbury, where the company employs about 1,000 engineers. Now a vast new building is taking shape on the site, providing space for thousands more workers. They aim to satisfy soaring demand for new products in 70 countries worldwide, especially Asia.

It should all be a great British success story. But, as Sir James explains, much will depend on whether he can find enough engineers. He needs 3,000 of them on the site, but Britain only produces about 25,000 engineering graduates a year so he could face a huge shortfall in recruitment. At best, this could slow his expansion plans. And Dyson is not alone. In the most recent survey of British firms that employ engineers and IT staff by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), over half reported that they could not find the employees they were looking for and 59% said that the shortage would be “a threat to their business in the UK”. EngineeringUK, a lobby group, has issued dire warnings that Britain currently has a shortfall every year of about 55,000 people with engineering skills. The mismatch of supply to demand across the broader range of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is just as bad.

These are disappointing figures, particularly as the lack of engineers and technicians in the country that gave birth to the industrial revolution has been well-known for more than a century. According to the IET annual survey, the “skills gap” has worsened for the ninth year in a row. Now it has become an important economic issue as well, one of the reasons for Britain’s terrible productivity. Britain had always lagged in this, but before the financial crisis of 2008 was catching up a bit with other G7 countries. Since then, however, the gap has widened again, with America clearly in the lead. In the long run it is increased productivity that will raise standards of living.

Economists have called Britain’s productivity woes a puzzle, blaming also poor infrastructure and stubbornly low investment. Most businessmen, however, are not puzzled at all; without skilled workers, it is hard for a business to grow, especially in the manufacturing and technology sectors. In the last survey by EngineeringUK nearly half of engineering firms said that hard-to-fill vacancies had meant delays in developing new products or services, while 45% said they experienced increases in operating costs. For a government that wanted to reverse the decline of manufacturing’s share of the economy when it came into office, the continuing skills shortage is a major obstacle.

It extends into management, too. According to one academic paper, about a quarter of Britain’s productivity gap with America can be put down to poor management. The main weakness is that too many of Britain’s family-owned firms still prefer primogeniture over meritocracy to select their top bosses, three times as often as German family-run firms do. But poor generals skills are to blame, too. Even after all the extra money spent on schools since the mid-1990s, Britain still performs at a mediocre level in internationally comparable tests. Recent reports suggest that about one-fifth of the adult population still lacks basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Such poor skills are in stark contrast to the country’s continuing excellence in science. With only 0.9% of the world’s population and 4.1% of its researchers, Britain still accounts for 16% of the world’s most cited scientific publications. But the country still struggles to translate this into innovative products for the market-place. The Bank of England points out that spending on research and development has held up quite well since the crisis, but that has not resulted in a growth of innovation in products and production processes (see chart). The share of companies that introduced new products from 2008 to 2012 declined from 24% to 18%.

To some, this suggests that it is no longer just enough to shout for more STEM graduates. Their skills will have to be allied to other creative or managerial skills. Sir James has taken matters into his own hands and endowed a new engineering school at Imperial College London. This will teach students about intellectual copyright, product testing and design alongside engineering, in the hope that they become more entrepreneurial.

This will take time, however, if it works at all. Meanwhile, companies have to look abroad for talent, where they come up against visa restrictions, even on foreign STEM graduates from British universities. This is not just a problem for engineering companies. A vocal critic is Lord Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra Beer. He calls the home secretary, Theresa May, “economically illiterate” for her refusal to relax visa rules for skilled workers. But with an election looming, expect politics to trump economics every time.


What global investors want from entrepreneurs, an expert advises


Eman Mostafa, technology and business geek, works for Argaam & Argaam Digital. You can e-mail her on eman.wamda@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter @EmanMos24674178.   

There are some questions that continuously occur in the minds of entrepreneurs – if I want to get seed financing, or that second round of funding, how am I going to build the mechanisms that will attract investors?

In some cases, entrepreneurs falter due to lack of funding, and that might require them to resort to guidance and coaching, or to search for opportunities on funding and crowdfunding platforms, or in incubators and business accelerators.

For some tips and advice on the best approach an entrepreneur may adopt during his search for money and interaction with investors, notably global ones, Wamda went to pick the brains of Vamsi Sistla, operating partner at Laconia Capital Group for investment services in New York.

Wamda: Which is better for a Middle East based startup, investment from a VC or a corporation?

Vamsi Sistla: I believe that the challenges facing startups in the Middle East, with the lack of capabilities, may force entrepreneurs to seek venture investment more than anyone else. Entrepreneurs will often view the terms and conditions set by companies as harsh and see them as limiting.

Wamda: What do investors expect from entrepreneurs?

Sistla: Investors will often decide to risk their funds in a startup when they see the glow of success in the eyes of young entrepreneurs. They will expect to find an entrepreneur who is able to explain his project, believes in his success. [The entrepreneur] will know how to face the challenges, and find the skills and potentials that his team lacks.

They need to be an entrepreneur ready to devote all the time, effort, and energy necessary to face all ups and downs of the early stages; one who studies competitors, whether at the local, regional, or global level.

If the investor doesn’t see all of this in an entrepreneur, he won’t risk one dollar.

Wamda: When is it the right time for an entrepreneur to look for investment?

Sistla: I think the answer to this question varies from one business model to another. In most cases, technical projects such as the development of mobile applications, need funds in the beginning. However, in other cases (which may be the majority), entrepreneurs should not look for investment before their project reaches a mature level, so as not to waste their main resources.

Wamda: What should an entrepreneur expect to get from a venture investor?

Sistla: Patience… This may be the most important thing for an entrepreneur, who is often mired in suspicion only one year after investing. This is the most common mistake that investors commit. The matter is settled. If the investor expects to get his money back within a year, he would be losing his character as an investor and turning into a lender. Profits cannot be generated before three years after seed financing, and more often than not, they are only generated when it is time for dissociation or subscription.

Wamda: What is your advice to entrepreneurs who have just started working on their startups?

Sistla: Start determining from the very first moment a profit-generation mechanism. Do not rely on attracting investments so that you don’t get stuck if you don’t receive any.

Do not consider investors entities as the answer to achieving your dreams, but rather always remember that each of you has a dream that the other has to realize.

Do not hesitate to create more than one source of profit for your project, so that investments do not stop. An example, not long after Instagram was bought by Facebook it then inked a deal with advertisers OmniCom worth a reported $50 million.

Wamda: What are the disadvantages of getting venture investment?

Sistla: In fact, getting an investment is a double-edged sword. It may either speed up success, or become harmful if the founding entrepreneur misuses resources, or rushes in his search for success before the project is completed on the ground. I believe that there is always time to rectify errors, as long as the parties concerned understand the situation.

Wamda: Some entrepreneurs decide to dispense altogether with investors to avoid third party interference. Is this a good idea?

Sistla: Not in all cases. It usually depends on the project’s business model. Some projects will never come to life without investment, especially those based on the development of a prototype. In other projects, owners should take their time before searching for investment; namely social projects, initiatives, and online content enrichment platforms. At the end of the day, every entrepreneur should determine the objectives of his project very clearly from the beginning.