CEO Spotlight: Fivos Tsaravopoulos – General Manager of Paths of Greece
Can social entrepreneurship contribute to a better future for the world? Paths of Greece is a Social Co-operative Enterprise that was founded 12 years ago. Fivos Tsaravopoulos is the general manager of Paths of Greece, and his vision for the company is to help Greece become one of the top 10 hiking destinations in the world.
Following the signing of numerous partnerships with many municipalities all over Greece, the company has upgraded the natural and cultural environment of many regions by bringing old footpaths back to life or forming new ones. The paths are waymarked, respond to the needs of modern hikers, and are promoted not only in Greece but globally.
Fivos Tsaravopoulos, in an interview with CEOWORLD magazine, said that Paths of Greece had completed hiking trail networks in Kythera, Sifnos, Serifos, Drama, Messinia, Kefalonia, Prespa Lakes, and many other places. At the same time, at this time there are in-progress projects in Lasithi (Crete), Desfina (Delfoi), Edessa (Northern Greece), Skiathos island, Arta, Corfu, and Epidaurus (Argolid Peninsula). It is worth mentioning that Mr. Tsaravopoulos has offered his advice on trail development in China and Tirana, Albania, as well as trail promotion in Japan. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the World Trails Network for about a decade.
At the same time, Mr. Tsaravopoulos is working on a new project recognized by the Ministry of Education in Greece for the new generations. The goal is to bring the children close to hiking, to be guided by nature and history, and to learn about the essence of the existence of the paths and why we must protect them.
Q: Which are your achievements during the 12 years of the Paths of Greece operation?
Fivos Tsaravopoulos: We have put a small stone in the way of organizing the hiking routes more correctly in Greece. If we want an area to become a hiking destination, we should properly organize the routes to appeal to a wider hiking public. The routes should be properly waymarked, cleared, and have a brand name. In other words, to have an identity and be accompanied by promotion actions. We started our activity on Kythera and Sifnos.
Q: Can you tell us about your activities abroad?
Fivos Tsaravopoulos: I am a member of the Board of Directors of the World Trails Network, and thus I participate in the World Trails Conferences that are held. I have been to South Korea, Japan, and Spain. This year’s event was about to be hosted in Nepal, but due to some crucial factors, it took place in Skiathos (Greece) in the end.
Furthermore, I have taken part in European projects with Culture Routes Society Turkey, as well as other organizations. In 2015, I was invited to China to offer my advice on trail development. I also traveled to Miyagi, Japan, for the purpose of discussing and showcasing the region’s trails to European and international audiences. I have participated in many hiking tourism exhibitions in France, Germany, Poland, and Sweden. Many of the trails that I have completed have been included in articles as the most beautiful routes in Europe.
Q: What are the difficulties that social entrepreneurship faces today?
Fivos Tsaravopoulos: Social Co-operative Enterprises are a fairly flexible business model. It provides several facilities, such as, for example, in the tax burden, although some have limitations from the legislation. Also, it is a model that is quite popular abroad.
Q: Do you believe that social entrepreneurship can change the world?
Fivos Tsaravopoulos: The very concept of the social cooperative enterprise includes equity in its operation. Paths of Greece is not a profit-seeking enterprise. It creates participatory activity for those who work for it. It is a social association that aims to help local societies. We are trying to stop the wave of desolation in the countryside so that the local communities can live better. When the operation of a business is based on parity, then we can hope for a better future.
Q: What is the vision of Paths of Greece?
Fivos Tsaravopoulos: Our vision is for Greece to become one of the top 10 hiking destinations worldwide. There should be a path next to every house, and the Greeks should start hiking. Today, the vast majority of hikers on a trail are not Greek people. In contrast, abroad, there is great interest in hiking.
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