Greece: Starting an online store is no easy business

It took 10 months, a fat bundle of paperwork, countless certificates, long hours of haggling with bureaucrats and overcoming myriad other inconceivable obstacles for one group of young entrepreneurs to open an online store.

“An online store is more complicated than a regular store basically because of the way payments are carried out,” explained Fotis Antonopoulos, one of the co-founders of www.oliveshop.com, which sells olive oil-based products such as cosmetics, mostly to foreign markets. “Most stores begin operating after receiving only the approval regarding their brand name, as the bureaucracy involved takes such a long time to complete that it is simply impossible to keep up with the operational costs, such as paying rent on obligatory headquarters, without making any sales,” said Antonopoulos.

Antonopoulos and his partners spent hours collecting papers from tax offices, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the municipal service where the company is based, the health inspector’s office, the fire department and banks. At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples.

À quelques reprises, j’ai pu lire que la faillite de la Grèce n’était pas imputable à la taille de son gouvernement puisque le nombre de fonctionnaires et les dépenses de l’État étaient comparables à beaucoup d’autres pays. Ces gens ont oublié de se poser une question fondamentale: que font les fonctionnaires et comment est utilisé l’argent dépensé…