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Ta helonakia: baby swimming


‘Ta Helonakia’ is Greek for “little turtles”. It is an indoor swimming pool facility that caters for children aged under-8, parents and pregnant mums. Ta Helonakia offers baby-swimming with experienced coaches, workshops for kids and children’s parties. At the same time, it caters also for the adults and pregnant mums with massage services, aqua-classes and nutrition classes.

An athlete himself, with a strong experience in coaching, Dimitris Kyriakopoulos always had a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve. Accessing the financial support he needed to get the turtles going, however, was not so straight forward. “I didn’t even approach most banks. It was impossible. They all wanted me to put my house down as collateral.”

What finally helped Dimitris connect the dots and secure the necessary financing was an EU-guaranteed loan from Eurobank and a combination of entrepreneurial support from Action Finance Initiative (AFI) - a Greek NGO providing free training and advice to entrepreneurs seeking microloans. “Eurobank didn’t require any collateral because the loan was guaranteed by the EU. It allowed us to buy the necessary equipment and machinery and start up the business,” explains Dimitris, “and AFI was also key in helping us start-up. They walked us through the process, worked with us on the business plan and were instrumental in getting us the loan.”

As a result of this loan, guaranteed by EIF through the EU’s Employment and Social Innovation programme (EaSI), Dimitris was able to hire 24 people, and he plans to hire a further 13 in 2018, as he looks to open in new locations in Athens, Cyprus and maybe Turkey. Furthermore, with the turtles now busily splashing about, in January 2018 he will be opening a small shop offering toys, books and other accessories for mums and kids alike.

Company: Ta helonakia (Greece)

Type of business: sport; children’s services

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument

Financial intermediary: Eurobank

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Ireland, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/el/index.htm


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