– As prepared for delivery –
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, [and distinguished guests]. Thank you for joining us here today as we honor the U.S. Embassy’s Entrepreneur of the Month for October 2015.
In January 2015, the U.S. Embassy launched the Entrepreneur of the Month program. Each month, the Embassy highlights individuals and companies in Romania which best embody the entrepreneurial spirit. These entrepreneurs recognized the potential of a new or emerging business idea or opportunity, and then developed a focused approach with drive and courage to turn that idea into reality.
In 2013, Alex Grigorescu founded Bucharest Walks after 12 years working for large tourism agencies. Grigorescu noted that most tourists would arrive in Bucharest and go straight to other Romanian cities for sightseeing. While Bran and Peles castles are exciting and Transylvania has beautiful mountains, Mr. Grigorescu regretted the lack of attention given to the capital. He decided to focus on Bucharest and offer small, specialized walking tours highlighting the city’s architecture, history and the rich heritage of its minorities. He noted both an unfulfilled niche in Romania’s tourism industry and the significant potential for growth. Despite many bureaucratic hurdles, with courage, he took the initiative to develop a new and unique service.
Mr. Grigorescu turned his passion for history, architecture and literature into a business opportunity. By focusing on Bucharest’s often overlooked assets, its diversity and its heritage as a crossroads for many cultures, Mr. Grigorescu offers both tourists and locals a different and unique side of Bucharest. A journalist by training, Mr. Grigorescu knows how to tell the fascinating story of Bucharest, including its communist past, diverse culture and even its unique cemeteries.
Mr. Grigorescu is able to turn his passion into a career thanks to the availability of and access to technology. Most of his clients find his company through search engines and Google. By designing his own website and working with online platforms such as viator and getyourguide.com, Mr. Grigorescu can reach tourists all over the world and schedule tours for them even before they arrive in Romania. In today’s world anyone can open a Global Business. This business model allows for a low-cost yet effective way of starting up and maintaining a thriving business.
Mr. Grigorescu recognized that tourism in Romania is still in its infancy. Along with his partners, he is developing several other specialized tours around the country to cater to the growing number of international tourists. The Government of Romania can help small scale tourism ventures, such as Bucharest Walks, by establishing a framework for helping entrepreneurs access funding available to small businesses through European Funds. Romania has the potential to become a top tourist destination. To do so, Romania must improve its infrastructure, including highways and roads, and create greater recognition of its natural beauty and historic attractions.
It was a pleasure to come here today and I very much look forward to this walking tour. I now invite you to join us for a small reception and then for the tour.