What bothers me about “entrepreneurship” in Cyprus

a new direction through Systemic Entrepreneurship

Bothersome: The last couple of years, Entrepreneurship has been presented as a “fix all problems approach” to all ills of our economy and society. Even more bothersome, this expectation has been cultivated by the most dangerous types, individuals who read a book and became “experts” in the field; people who don’t even know what they don’t know! Not a bad thing to attempt a contribution in a debate, but it is dangerous to project knowledge that has been acquired by reading a book at best.

Entrepreneurship experiences such as making mistakes, trying a concept, developing ideas and actually building, managing, and growing companies, raising real funds, failing, trying again, building Intellectual Capital and Managing it, and translating Intellectual Value to Economic Value should be the acid test in being able to develop an educated opinion about Entrepreneurship.

These people are politicians, glory and attention seeking individuals, know-it-alls, etc. My concern is that we have been creating the wrong expectations about entrepreneurship, and 1) the negative impact it can have in case of a failure, and 2) its successful implementation model in our specific ecosystem, as we have done with other grandiose ideas; Cyprus a Center for Education, Cyprus a Center for Health Tourism, Cyprus a Financial Center and many more. Needless to point out our failures at all three attempts presented above.

We must learn to move from the point of talking to the point of doing. I do not want us to fail in implementing a framework, a model, an ecosystem, an incentive based legislation etc. that can facilitate understanding, embracing, and integrating in our culture the values of Entrepreneurship; Innovation, Creativity, Scientific Curiosity, Logical Reasoning, Decision Making, and Leadership. Regardless if someone wants to open up a business or not, those are values important enough for any profession or job.

Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurship ecosystems cannot be transplanted, copied, tattooed exactly as they have been implemented in other jurisdictions. I get upset when I hear statements such as, “we should make Cyprus the next Silicon Valley, or the next Israel or the next whatever”. Rather, we should make every effort to build a Cyprus-specific infrastructure and ecosystem that can facilitate the development of Entrepreneurial minds and culture that together with other development and growth programs can lead us back to financial, social, educational, and cultural prosperity. A phrase that I coined and like to use, “Systemic Entrepreneurship”, has enough context to demonstrate the actions and policies that we should develop and implement to achieve this goal.

Let’s stop trying to copy others, and let’s begin working diligently to develop a model that can lead Cyprus to a better quality of life for us and future generations.

About the Author

Demetris Hadjisofocli

Managing Director at Helix Business Incubator in Nicosia. Education: US, BSBA in MBA. Built one of the first ISPs in USA, worked and developed the initial physical layer internet infrastructure, many years in venture capital industry in the USA. Pushing for substantive entrepreneurship in Cyprus for the last 10 years from various (out)posts.