On October 3rd, at an Inaugural Banquet marking The Hellenic Initiative’s one year anniversary, the organization raised $1.9 million, making the event one of the most successful fundraising initiatives ever within the Greek-American community.
Focusing on the theme, “Investing in the Future of Greece,” the banquet was attended by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and prominent members of the Greek-American community, including master of ceremonies George Stephanopoulos, Ambassador John Negroponte, and several newly appointed Board members.
The event honored three outstanding individuals for their service to people of Greece: Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation; Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company; and Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company. During the ceremony, they were recognized for their longstanding commitment and many contributions to Greece, especially in response to the economic crisis.
The organization also announced new initiatives to promote a culture of entrepreneurship and catalyze economic development, enhancing The Hellenic Initiative’s ongoing efforts and vision to mobilize the Greek diaspora to invest in the economic future of Greece. New initiatives announced included:
Global Awareness and Fundraising Campaign
OneGreece.org: A global campaign to encourage the diaspora and friends of Greece to contribute to THI’s programs around relief, recovery, and renewal. The campaign was launched with “We are One Greece,” an inspirational video of voices from the global Greek community.
The Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award launches new businesses through intensive mentorship, business support and seed funding. Managed by the Libra Group, which has committed over €5 million ($6.8 million) to this award, the program selects entrepreneurs based on demonstrated innovation, potential for job creation, financial discipline and social responsibility.
The Hellenic Center for Entrepreneurship is a new program designed to foster more – and more successful – entrepreneurs by building the foundational skills critical to creating sustainable businesses. The Center will be led by respected Greek educational institutions and staffed by entrepreneurs in residence.
The THI Export Accelerator will focus on more established entrepreneurs ready to expand in the export markets. Starting in the food sector, the Accelerator will introduce high-performing Greek brands to potential customers in the U.S. market with the aim of increasing sales, production and job creation.
The Hellenic Investment Fund is an impact investment fund targeting a “double bottom line” of investment returns and job growth. The fund will provide growth equity to small and midsized companies that are the backbone of the Greek economy and whose success is critical to fueling its recovery. It is a standalone, for-profit fund managed by investment professionals. THI will have no management or investment authority.
The Fellowship for a New Economy invests in human capital – the mindsets and capabilities required to shape sustainable growth over the long-term. Through the Fellowship, early-and mid-career Greek professionals will complete 12-month rotations in leading U.S. businesses, building the functional skills and mindsets to guide strategic growth in core economic sectors. Fellows will also participate in a rigorous professional development program to create a community of change leaders committed to a shared vision of the future.
“The Hellenic Initiative was created to harness the desire and energy expressed by the Greek Diaspora to help Greece in its time of need. The collective voices of a growing and very driven group of leaders in the Greek American community founded THI and the success of our inaugural banquet is a demonstration that we can have great impact when given the opportunity to unify around a set of objectives,” said Andrew N. Liveris.
“The attendance and funds raised last night is evidence that our community is again rising to the call to give back; not just in funds but also in programs that invest in the next generation. We look forward to even more success through our new Diaspora campaign, OneGreece.org.”
During the event Muhtar Kent encouraged guests to get involved. “This is a very personal and urgent cause for us. Greece needs our help today, not tomorrow or the day after,” Kent said. “As a global community we need to support the non-profits that provide a crucial safety net to families impacted by the crisis and promote investment and stimulus to get the economy moving again.” The Niarchos Foundation was recognized for its leadership in providing crisis relief in Greece and as a partner to shape THI’s own humanitarian programs that have committed $1 million to local relief organizations. “It is the role of the global Greek community – in Greece and across the Diaspora – to step up and address the ongoing crisis taking an economic and humanitarian toll on the country. Crisis relief provides a stable foundation for any effort to rebuild the Greek economy,” said Andreas Dracopoulos.
Since its founding in 2012 by Andrew N. Liveris, Muhtar Kent, George M. Logothetis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Libra Group, and George Stamas, Partner, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, The Hellenic Initiative has seen significant growth both in scale and in the support offered by the Greek diaspora and by individual and corporate sponsors. Within the last year, the organization launched the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award, contributed a total of $1 million to programs focused on crisis relief, and developed a visionary and aggressive set of programs focused on ensuring a strong future for Greece.