Monday, 4 January 2016

The Punks of Economic Life in Hungary by Andrej Petri.

There are two types of Hungarian entrepreneurs: the diligent innovators and the tricksters. What comes to your mind if you think about entrepreneurs? Are they constantly looking for loopholes in the system? Are they running their business just because they need money? Or can an entrepreneur be innovative, creative and brave, as well?
The founders of Bridge Budapest, a cooperation of quickly developing and internationally successful companies that started out from Hungary (including Prezi, Ustream, LogMeIn, NNG, etc.), are interested in these questions along with Transparency International and CEU Business School. Because they believe that, a country's competitiveness depends on the existence of smart enterprises.

There is an urban legend in Hungary, which says that one should not ask an entrepreneur about how they made their first million (approx. 3300 euros), because you cannot be sure they are proud of that story. Bridge Budapest believes that there are many entrepreneurs in Hungary who are proud of their first million, and it's important that they tell us their story. This is why they started the campaign: The story of my first million. I read an interview with two representatives of this initiative in HVG, and wanted to sum it up for you.
Some companies don't even try to do their job well. They just keep looking for loopholes, doing tax evasion. These companies make fair player entrepreneurs’ work more difficult. My first million movement claims that everybody can be an entrepreneur without cheating because it's not impossible in Hungary. A lot of companies have obscure past, and we do not know how they got their first million (HUF). If nobody wanted to avoid paying taxes, more money would flow into the government and ideally it could give higher salaries and better public services for ordinary people. This way we could make our country richer. 
Now some exciting questions and answers from the interview.
HVG.HU: When the less innovative entrepreneurs, a cheesemaker for example see that his rivals don't play fair, he can't enter the business in a clear way.
BB: Entrepreneurs should focus their energy on innovation. A cheesemaker needs to make better cheese, which he can sell for a higher price. If he concentrates on clean business and innovation, he will gain advantage in the cheese business, too.
HVG.HU: So would you say that it is not necessary to find loopholes in Hungary today?
Nobody wants to be a swindler having to hide because of breaking the rules. This is the purpose of My first million: experienced entrepreneurs can tell us how they work. Who could show it to us better than them?
HVG.HU: If everybody pays all taxes and etcetera, everything will be much more expensive, for example a coffee will cost 1000 HUF. Who will buy it? Why would this make people's salaries rise?
BB: In this case, the money that the "unfair players" keep will be added to the state's funds, and the aim would be to share that with the citizens in a proper way. The question is: how could we make this happen?
HVG.HU: And how?
BB: I know I am talking about Wonderland, but if I can trust my electrician, if I can buy vegetables on the corner safely, this will change the system. There are many honest and independent entrepreneurs, and the corrupt "loopholers" are much less. I believe that if the situation changes at my butcher’s shop or my hairdresser’s, our whole environment will change. And if there were more sincere entrepreneurs, we could lobby for some changes in the Hungarian rules, which make fair business more difficult. But this requires a critical mass, and we need to build this community.

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