To start a company in Greece back in 2007, an entrepreneur would have to go through 15 procedures that took an average of 38 days and 4,200 euros – or 21.7% of the country’s annual per capita income – besides having to present a notary with evidence of having capital of at least €22,500 (or depositing that amount, or more, in a bank). Today, it requires just three steps that take four days and cost about €250, without any minimum capital required.
This is the result of the creation of the General Commercial Register (GEMH), the most decisive reform to facilitate entrepreneurship in Greece. Now, according to a World Bank study on the Greek register for companies, this very reform has rendered Greece the European country with the easiest procedures for starting a business.
It goes on to argue that Greece can be used as an example for other countries to follow when drafting policy for improvements in procedures for setting up a business.
In fact, at this stage, Greece is in the process of granting GEMH an even greater role, not only in setting up companies and commercial publicity, but also business strategy. What is being examined is the exchange of data with tax offices and banks, and the creation of a credit rating assessment service and the provision of timely warnings to companies at risk of bankruptcy. Consultancy services may also be offered to those enterprises to help them recover.
Those moves remain on the drawing board for now, as there are certain issues under examination, such as the protection of sensitive personal information and bank secrecy.
After being created in 2011, an important reform was introduced in 2012 with the introduction of the private capital company (IKE): The ease with which an IKE can be set up led to an increase in active enterprises. According to the World Bank study, IKEs currently constitute 23.7% of Greece’s active enterprises. This was also the first form of enterprise in Greece that could be created electronically, through the one-stop-shop service that was launched in 2018. Today, an IKE can only be set up online.