Business and Cultural Development Centre (KEPA) is a, nonprofit private legal entity, with its headquarters in Thessaloniki, Greece.
It was founded in 1991 by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (FING) and Greek International Business Association (SEVE), with the aim of implementing and managing European and national programmes or parts thereof for the benefit of private initiative.
Since 1993, KEPA has proved its success as an Intermediate Managing Authority for National and Regional programmes.
Since its establishment, KEPA has implemented successfully more than 72 national/regional programmes, being in charge of the management of over 16.000 business plans, totaling a 2,1-billion-euro budget, with 1,02-billion-euro of public financing.
In 2011, KEPA decided to expand its activity, developing an internal European Projects Department, in order to incorporate all the knowledge and expertise raised out of the organisation’s participation in EU funded projects. KEPA’s focus is targeted in 3 main pillars: Design Thinking, Microfinance and Social Economy. Through its participation in several projects so far, KEPA has gained significant experience and knowhow in the specific sectors, while it also participates as an active member to several European Networks (ERRIN, EMN, MFC, BEDA). Up-to-date, KEPA has successfully participated in more than 20 EU funded projects, totaling a budget of more than 15,5 million euro.
Through the beforementioned expertise, KEPA has succeeded in establishing two major initiatives, the “microSTARS” and the “Hellenic Design Centre”.
In particular, back in early 2015, KEPA developed the “microSTARS” initiative with the aim to provide microloans -along with Business Development Services- to SMEs. For this purpose, KEPA operates two branches, in Thessaloniki and Kilkis respectively. The provision of microloans is made through KEPA’s cooperation with Cooperative Bank of Karditsa and Pancretan Cooperative Bank.
Moreover, in October 2018, KEPA established the Hellenic Design Centre (HDC) with the aim to promote the use of Design Thinking -a user-centered approach- in both public and private sector in order to enhance the competitiveness of Greek SMEs, the production of innovative products and the creation of high-quality services.
Additionally, KEPA is a member and the financial administrator of ΟΚ!Τhess pre-incubator, while it implements a series of projects of great importance, in the context of the major donation that was made by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to the Municipality of Thessaloniki.
Through its 25-years-existence, KEPA consulted States Authorities by developing business studies and researches, has participated either solely or jointly with other partners to Committees and State Institutions and has developed great partnerships with local and regional organizations (AUTH, UoM, ATHE, Regions, Chambers, Municipality of Thessaloniki etc.).
KEPA’s human resources, recognition in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, cooperation with Chambers and Development Agencies, credibility and high-quality services, has led to being characterised as a “Point of Reference in the Regional Development” and one of the country’s major providers of entrepreneurship and business support.