An article a few days ago spoke about how UK entrepeneurs are looking to expand, despite the recession and looking eastwards towards “Europe”. I say Europe in inverted commas because German, French and other friends of mine find it strange when people in Britain refer to the European mainland or continent as “Europe” and interpret it as implying Britain is not part of Europe. Britain is definitely part of Europe, but as for the whole issue of the EU and federalism that is another separate debate and topic.
It also mentions Will King, the highly successful British entrepreneur (and I believe potential future billionaire) who has his own shaving company and is seeking to challenge shaving giant Gillette who I wrote about in a previous article:
In addition to Will King, angel investor Sherry Coutu’s name appeared as one of the entrepreneurs as someone whose opinions were included in the research.
This interest and enthusiasm from British businessmen and women in expanding in to western and also eastern Europe is all the more interesting given the current Eurozine crisis which the continent is struggling to cope with. This however has not deterred, which should hopefully be a healthy sign for all of us.
The research by RSM Tenon says that 31% of Britain’s entrepreneurs are planning to target foreign markets in 2012 with half of them interested in “western” Europe and secondly “on the hit list is eastern Europe, which will be pursued by 37% of the study’s respondents”
“Eastern Europe” or “Central Europe?”
This brings us to another question of geography and appropriate terminology and that is of calling countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and others as “Eastern Europe” or “Central European”.
Many people from such countries have an aversion to the term Eastern Europe which they believe has a stigma including association with the old communist past which they would like to forget. They have geography on their side. Europe stretches all the way from the Atlantic i.e Ireland and Portugal to the Urals mountains in Russia.
Branding plays a key part in business as people no matter how much they may not realize it are subconsciously affected by imagery, terminology or even connotations. So many in countries such as Poland and Hungary actively try to promote wider use of this term. It will be difficult since the term “Eastern Europe” is primarily a legacy of the time when Europe was divided between the capitalist and communist blocs in the “West” and “East”, and anything east of the then West Germany was seen as part of the “iron curtain”. Such a cultural division did not exist however prior to the second world war and countries such as the then Czechoslovakia were definitely regarded as mainstream European countries. How successful will this effort to re-label such countries as “Central Europe”, be? Only time will tell, but it would not active lobbying by their governments including urging international media outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC and others to use the term “Central Europe” so it is thus used on a popular level.
However whilst British entrepreneurs “go east”, one thing is certain the continent’s focus this summer will be on central Europe as the key television event of the summer which will be watched by billions of people not just in Europe but also the rest of the world, the European football championships will be held in Poland and Ukraine. This will also be in addition to the London Olympics.
Spain are favourites to win the title and are current world champions with some of the greatest players in the world.
The Germans are second favourites and will no doubt be as organized and determined as ever.
The Dutch are third favourites, the picture shows key Dutch player Wesley Sjneider in tears after their defeat in the final of the 2010 world cup. Holland have reached the world cup final three times and lost. They are often called the best football team to never win the world cup.
England are fourth favourites.
Football mad Italy, the second most successful team in World cup history with four world cups are ranked number five in the list of favourites.
Will home advantage make Poland progress further than expected?
Ukraine too like their western neighbours Poland enjoy home support and will be hosting the final in their capital, Kiev.
Countries such as Poland and other central European countries are expanding economically and fresh opportunities are waiting there for adventurous entrepreneurs with the right ideas and strategies. Ukraine is also another country with immense potential, traditionally being the bread basket of the former USSR with its rich fertile land. Both countries host Euro 2012 this summer.