THI Donation of $50,000 to Odyssea helps job seekers in Greece

November 16, 2022

Odyssea’s Cutting Edge Training Facilities and EmpIoyability Program Prepare and Connect Youth to Jobs

The Hellenic Initiative (THI) has donated an additional $50,000 to the not-for-profit Odyssea in addition to the $10,000 awarded them in 2021 through THI’s Venture Impact Awards program.

Recent news reports reveal that Greece’s recovery from its economic crisis is tragically incomplete.  According to a 2021 UNICEF study, 1 in 4 children live in a household at risk of poverty and 1 in 3 families are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

Odyssea focuses on supporting young people from Greece, aged 18-34 from vulnerable backgrounds by offering vocational training and employment services. Its Academy helps people develop new skills that make them ideal candidates for the positions they desire, and the Employability Program helps them find jobs.

Jai Mexis, Odyssea’s dynamic founder and CEO established Odyssea back in 2016, driven by his passion to help vulnerable youth to reach their full potential, be self-reliant  and pursue purposeful lives. In 2022, Odyssea won the New European Bauhaus award for empowering vulnerable people and bridging them with the world of work.

Founded in 2012, THI brings together Diaspora Greeks and Philhellenes to invest in Greece through programs focused on economic development and crisis relief.  THI has invested approximately $20 million in Greece since inception, and partners with proven non-profits and NGOs on the ground in Greece, organizations with a track record, such as Odyssea.  With a database of 30,000 Greeks of the Diaspora, and donors in 47 countries, THI is the largest Greek Diaspora organization in the world.

Odyssea COO Maria Hatzinikolaki notes that the grim poverty statistics for families in Greece motivate the people at Odyssea to help in concrete ways.

The ongoing Greek economic crisis lowered many middle class families below the poverty line.  Hatzinikolaki notes “Odyssea has documented” this unfortunate situation through observations of the many families they support. ‘This is in work poverty’ – there are many people in blue collar jobs whose incomes cannot sustain their families.”

The goal of Odyssea is ‘Upskilling’ people for jobs with futures that pay better, preparing them with the ‘hard skills’ which are in demand, as well as the soft skills – professional behavior like punctuality, cooperation, time management – that will enable them to thrive and grow.

She emphasizes that, “one of Odysseas target groups are the NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training – low income disadvantaged groups.

Odyssea gets excellent results through their unique training/employment labs in the Athens area. These mimic workplace facilities, including real commercial kitchens for chefs’ assistants. “We take young people and train them so they can experience the environment they will encounter in their preferred fields.”

Odyssea also cooperates with the HR departments of approximately 150 companies. “We help people to connect with possible employers and we also present job fairs tailor-made for given companies,” Hatzinikolaki said.

George Stamas, THI Board President, stated: “Since 2014, THI has funded Regeneration, a job creation engine for college-educated young people in Greece.  With our sponsorship of Odyssea, we can also help those young people in Greece who might not have had the opportunity to attend college or were otherwise disadvantaged.  THI is pleased to help a wider spectrum of Greek society find jobs in a wider range of opportunities with the addition of Odyssea as a grantee.”

Andrew Liveris, THI Board Chairman stated: “We are pleased to support Odyssea, and the timing is excellent. The new grant will be used to support training and employment programs benefitting 230 people, at a time when the hospitality and other industries in Greece are once again thriving and actively seeking good workers.”