Over 900 jobs created, and 1.000 businesses supported thanks to EU4Business project
Despite economic uncertainty 930 jobs were created, more than 120 start-ups established and 1.000 businesses supported in Bosnia and Herzegovina thanks to the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany joint funding in the amount of EUR 16.1 million. Initiated in April 2018, a four-year project, on “Local Development Strategies – Programme for Local Self Government and Economic Development” with a co-funded project called EU4Business aimed to drive greater employment and long-term economic growth by raising competitiveness and generating innovation in agriculture, tourism, and export-oriented sectors while fostering entrepreneurship.
Boosting employment and competitiveness of businesses in the pandemic was a significant challenge not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but around the globe. Agile in the response to new circumstances, the project’s efforts contributed to strengthening of the BiH economy by retaining existing and creating new jobs while improving micro, small and medium-sized enterprises operations, digitization, or services so they can become more competitive on the foreign and domestic markets.
In total 84 development projects in agri-food and rural development, export-oriented, tourism and entrepreneurship benefited from the project’s financial and technical assistance. To untap export potential, 143 businesses received consulting services on product development, marketing, technology upgrade, technical skills resulting in a 56 percent increase in export sales.
One of the project beneficiaries Salih Lemeš, director of Alternativa d.o.o., Sarajevo, a producer of thermal insulation panels and roll-formed plates, said “The EU4Business project contributed, along with other factors, to the increase of our export. Now, we can prepare reports on all product parameters following the EU market standards, which leads to gaining the trust of new customers. By investing in the laboratory, the control process became faster and more efficient. The results of the high-quality thermal conductivity of the panels are evident just a few minutes after production.”
In the tourism sector, 49 new and improved tourist products and services are available ranging from adventure parks, biking trails, rock climbing, hiking paths, educational trails, playgrounds, and other adrenalin activities offering outdoor adventures and cultural tours to domestic, regional and international visitors. In partnership with institutional stakeholders at different levels, a country wide Model of Sustainable Tourism Development and Certification has been developed. In 2021, one of the supported grant recipients Dinaridca, the first green destination in the country, “From the battle to protect one river to the formation of critical mass and a new green destination” story was included in the "Top 100 stories of sustainable tourist destinations", a competition organized by the international foundation Global Green Destination (GGD).
Igor Milošev, the rock-climbing and skiing instructor, from "Enjoy Sarajevo-Romanija Region" project said “The pandemic has slowed international tourism globally. However, for us working in the tourism sector, it has also provided a time and space to focus more on building new facilities and realising existing ideas, such as Via Ferrata on Romanija mountain. The EU4Business project directly contributes to it. It also helps promote new tourism products worldwide. We want to show the beauty and opportunities of our villages, mountains and nature. The country – especially in light of the pandemic – has great potential for outdoor tourism, much more than we have developed so far. In the next few years, we will increase our offer regarding cycling, canyoning, hiking, rural and adrenaline tourism.”
Over 700 small agricultural producers and 35 agri-food operators improved their operations and services. To support entrepreneurship 123 new businesses were established, out of which 54 are women led, 53 are in the IT sector, while 350 young persons received entrepreneurship training.
The EU4Business co-funded project was jointly implemented by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The European Union provided EUR 15 million, while the Federal Republic of Germany EUR 1.1 million.