Malta: Close to Africa, still Europe






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esi: Who are you, what do you do and what makes you an expert on your start-upcountry?
Jaroslaw: I’m involved in the active promotion of technological entrepreneurship in Europe, Asia and Africa as a Global Facilitator of Startup Weekend. I got involved in Maltese start-up community when introducing Startup Weekend to its budding entrepreneurs – having several, local and international individuals and organizations gathered around this initiative provided me with an overview regarding the drivers, feeders and supporters of the local ecosystem.

esi: What is cool about your start-upcountry, what inspires you and keeps you thriving?
Jaroslaw: Parallel to the size of the country, the Maltese start-up community is super small. But what can be perceived as its main weakness provides a unique set of qualities. This way Maltese entrepreneurs benefit from a community small enough to remain close-knit. In contrast to “every-man-for-himself” atmosphere known from larger ecosystems, Maltese can keep up a free flow of ideas and advice, because – in the long run – helping others reach success leads to growth for the whole fledgling community. One more important factor strictly related to the community’s size is Maltese openness to others and ease of absorbing new views, ideas, solutions – that’s what Malta is historically known for. There is no coincidence here that Malta remains close ties with both Southern Europe and North Africa – with growing interests tech entrepreneurship gains in the country, these ties can transform Malta into Mediterranean start-ups’ hub, making it a place to be!

esi: What makes you shake your head about your start-upcountry, what needs to be improved?
Jaroslaw: It is still hard to call the Maltese start-up community a well-developed and thriving one – it remains to be in the stage of a discovery. Setting up platforms allowing its key players (the entrepreneurs) to meet, mingle, exchange experience and ideas is still a fundamental aim standing in front of anyone willing to drive the change. Fortunately, there’s a growing awareness of all possible benefits a vibrant start-up community can bring to the country and there’s a fair bunch of local players willing to drive such a change.

esi: What’s some cool fact we are likely not to know about your start-upcountry?
Jaroslaw: I-gaming – along with tourism this is Malta’s main service export. A user-friendly business environment and favorable regulatory framework make Malta a popular location base for such operations. I-gaming has been significantly growing in Malta for the last five years, where the larger players have established licensing operations. Currently, we see the second wave of smaller companies coming in because of the momentum created by the bigger players, and we see the service providers following on, such as the I-gaming software developers.


About the interviewpartners:
Jarsolaw Bialek (l.) is entrepreneur, mentor and consultant in several start-up incubators in Europe and West Africa. Simon Azzopardi is Founder and CEO of tain&able.