26% of the diaspora are ready to start or expand their investments in B&H
Based on official statistics of the reception countries and data from Embassies and Consulates of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees (MHRR) estimates that the total number of Bosnian residents that live abroad is approximately 2 million (including their descendants) in 51 countries. This shows that the number of expatriates in the 50 recipient countries is about 53% of today’s population in BiH, this means that the B&H diaspora relative to the population is the largest in Europe.
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH, from 1998 to mid-November 2013, 61,752 persons renounced their citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to receive another citizenship, which in most cases was to acquire citizenship of Germany, Austria, Australia and Norway.In addition, a high percentage of highly-skilled professionals emigrate abroad, and the most popular destinations are Australia, the US and Sweden.
Diaspora remittances account for a significant share of the country’s GDP, and in addition diaspora savings exceed the number of remittances by several times. Moreover, incomplete data shows that the level of education of the diaspora is greater than that of the population in BiH, which indicates a significant potential in terms of human capital and knowledge transfer. Therefore, the diaspora can contribute to the promotion of trade, to attract foreign direct investments, to start a business and to help the development of entrepreneurship.
In general, the diaspora around the world has a strong emotional, financial and family bond with BiH. Nevertheless, the new generation doesn’t have the same sense of cohesion and identification with and belonging to the home country is weakening.
32% of BiH diaspora around the world have invested or intend to invest in the host country; only 6% have invested in BiH, and those investments are mainly in micro, small and medium companies in the following sectors: wholesale (including shops, bars and cafes), real estate, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. The obstacle for larger investments in BiH are generally the following: perception of an unfavorable business environment in the country, insufficient awareness of the diaspora, a lack of co-financing by local institutions, non-existent or weak diaspora business organizations in host countries (that have the greatest strength to change the economy), and weak business connections between companies in the diaspora and BiH.
It is encouraging that 26% of the diaspora are ready to start or expand their investments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly in their hometowns. However, they yet need to explore their potential in terms of promoting the competitiveness and market growth in BiH enterprises, in particular through the targeted provision of business processes. Local governments have a role to play together with partners from the private sector in order to: identify economic opportunities, improve administrative frameworks to support mentoring and training and provide incentives for diaspora investments.
Prominent Bosnians in the Diaspora
Eddie Čustović – Author of Revolutionary Inventions
Edhem Eddie Čustović (31), a Bosnian who has been living in Australia for the past twenty years, found his way among the successful Bosnians and Herzegovinians. The war events forced him and his family to leave the homeland and go to Switzerland first, where they stayed for three years before settling on the address in the land of kangaroos, where he went to school, found a job, and where he is now lining one success after another.
Today, Edhem is an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the largest professional organization in the world counting 425.000 members in more than 160 countries, including the most successful professors from the top universities in the world, engineers and computer scientists who work for companies such as Google, Siemens, Tesla Motors, etc. In this institute, Čustović is the editor of the publication IMPACT, president of IEEE for the state of Victoria in Australia, and vice-president for IEEE Young Professionals on global level. He is also a professor at the renowned La Trobe University, where he was once a student.
“Although I left BiH when I was seven years old, I am a huge patriot, I love my country and I am proud of the achievements of our people around the world. Except for my parents and brother who are in Australia, the rest of my family is still in Tuzla and Sarajevo. I visit often because I travel the world five to six times a year for business purposes,” Čustović said.
Čustović is the author of revolutionary inventions such as the Countakick and Tiger-3 digital radar. Countakick is a wearable device in the form of a belt that uses a combination of microphones and sensors to monitor the movement of the baby during the last few months of pregnancy, which significantly reduced the number of stillborn children in Australia. Along with Countakick, in cooperation with his colleagues he also designed a mobile app which records the movement of the baby. The mother can track those movements herself and forward that information to her gynecologist for further monitoring, in order to timely react to possible anomalies.
“TIGER-3 digital over-horizontal high-frequency radar worth $1.7 million turned out to be a very successful project. It is located near Adelaide in South Australia. It consists of three linear array antennae 250 meters long whose digital transceiver provides us with a complete overview of the field of vision that extends some 5.000 kilometers from the mainland. The radar is used for the study of space time, which has a great impact on navigation and monitoring of systems for aviation and shipping, as well as for the GPS systems. I would mention another one of my projects, which is actually much greater than Countakick and TIGER-3 radar and it is related to the biology of plants. It is a multispectral, three-dimensional high transient phenotype system (MS3D-HTTPS). This study will fill an important technological gap that exists between plant genomics and plant phenology, allowing the full potential and investment in plant genomics to be realized. Other projects are in the fields of food industry, supporting technology and analytics for monitoring athletes with high performances, projects with the German Space Center, SmartMed project for home care patients, and others. Basically, I’m dealing with the application of engineering and computer science,” explained Čustović.
The secret of his success, as he explains, is in persistence and effort with sacrifice, and the desire to show how a child from BiH can positively contribute to the world we live in. Love for books and science was born in his early childhood because he comes from a mostly high-educated family.
“Only in my close family I have a doctor and an engineer, and my grandmother was a math professor. When you are surrounded with such knowledge, then you are interested in everything as of the earliest age. Our house was always full of books. Countries like Australia, as well as numerous other western countries, provide many opportunities for young people to become successful. Those opportunities have to be seized, and that is what I did. My parents insisted that my brother and I educate ourselves. I grew up in a suburb of Melbourne where the population is mostly working class. I attended one very low-rank high school because my parents could not send me to a private school. However, that did not diminish my desire for science and knowledge. With the ultimate results achieved, I was able to enroll into one of the leading Australian universities, La Trobe. While I was still studying and doing my PhD thesis, I was connected with three or four different project apart from my PhD thesis. Those projects attracted the attention of the dean, who offered me a job as a university professor, along with doing why I know how to do very well – research in partnership with large companies,” Čustović said.
Aida Droce – Molecular biologist
Aida Droce is proof that hard work and effort are always rewarded: from being a refugee to a PhD in biotechnology.
Perhaps she couldn’t even dream that from the day she moved to Denmark in the early ’90s, and throughout her life she would carry the title of “Doctor of Biotechnology” and a “Master of Molecular Biology”.
Aida was interested in biology from high school and later continued her studies in Aarhus and then in Aalborg. In parallel with the last three months of writing her dissertation, her daughter was born and she has devoted as much attention to her as to her studies. Although writing a dissertation and defending it was not easy, Aida did it alone and defended at Aalborg University. The PhD diploma is just the crowning achievement of all that she did so far.
Dr. Aida Droce is a leading expert in the prestigious Danish company Food Diagnostics, where she uses her knowledge in biotechnology and molecular biology on a daily basis.
Her story is pure inspiration for all those who choose the same or a similar path. Success comes only with hard work and efforts by those who are not afraid to dream, because with a precise objective nothing is impossible. Aida Droce is a successful example of that.
Ervin Sejdic – Presidential Award for young scientists and engineers
Ervin Sejdic – was born in Gradacac in 1979 and was forced to leave the country during the war. The refugee route led him from Croatia, Hungary to Canada and finally to the United States, where he specialized and received his doctorate.
Today Sejdic leads his own laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, where he’s an Assistant Professor and deals with modeling the aging process. He is researching modeling the aging process especially regarding the function of swallowing and human locomotion. Sejdic and his colleagues are trying to mathematically model the process of walking in order to advance prediction of when a person will fall.
As a successful scientist in the field of health and health service delivery, Sejdic won the “Presidential Award for young scientists and engineers”, awarded by President Barack Obama. Thousands of young researchers were nominated by government agencies including NASA. Sejdic was recognized for outstanding contributions to the scientific field of bioengineering and the use of information technology in health care.
The scientist originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina has published numerous scientific papers during his career as well as registering numerous patents. Sejdic has been honored for his scientific contributions several times.
Sanel Babic – Bosnian who launches NASA satellites and robots into space
Sanel Babic is a Bosnian that left his country during the war. His refugee route from Vlasenica to America wasn’t easy: he first moved to Germany where he started programming as a hobby and, after six years, he moved to Indiana in the United States, where he finished College for Electronics Engineering.
This specialized developer and electronics engineer works for the “United Launch Alliance” in Denver, the largest missile company in the US, which launches satellites and robots to Mars for NASA. Babic says that his job in this company is his “childhood dream”.
Babic is an expert in drawing electronics circuits in the program “Zuken E3”. He leads courses and training for engineers to know how to use this program that diagrams everything from launching rockets to the satellites which are launched.
The successful Bosnian engineer personally drew close to 600 circuit diagrams and explained that there is a difference between NASA missions, depending on the instruments that are in the sensors or what their targets are.