“All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA.”
—Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder
Maša Čampara – eMedia Patch
Maša Čampara began her career in online advertising in New York City, with companies such as iVillage, NBC, MediaCom, and Optimedia where she worked for world-famous brands such as Lancome, Cartier, Staples, and Sanofi.
Following her return to Bosnia and Herzegovina from the US in 2009, Maša, with strong faith that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina could use their knowledge to be competitors in the world market, established eMedia Patch – a digital agency in Bosnia and Herzegovina which provides comprehensive media planning services, campaign management, and the most current consulting solutions for online publishers.
Today, eMedia Patch is expanding rapidly. Its main driving force is creating opportunities for young, intelligent, and passionate people while providing the highest quality of work and customer service in the sphere of online media.
Major clients of the agency include amcTV, WETV, IFC, Sundance Channel, Wikia, College Humor, BabyCenter, Primo Media, Go2mobi, BrideClick, Lisa Hoffman Beauty, and more. Through managing the overall revenue of advertising campaigns across Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan and Latin America, the company has positioned itself as a competitive player in one of the world’s largest markets.
The growth has been organic and steady without any external help or funding. eMedia Patch is continuously acquiring new clients and staffing up accordingly. Their achievements are evident through new business development successes as well as the constant increase in the scope of work and consistent rise in the revenue among the existing clients.
In a short period of time, eMedia Patch has proven that it can export the expertise and knowledge of its talented staff to complete highly intellectual tasks in a field which requires the constant monitoring of trends as well as the development of technologies and personal competencies.
Hamdija Jusufagic, System Verification
System Verification AB is the largest independent company of quality control in Sweden, whose founder and owner, Hamdija Jusufagić, originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, has opened a branch office in Sarajevo. They aim to offer the same quality services as well as in Sweden, but at a lower price.
System Verification today has offices in Malmo, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Sarajevo. According to Hamdija Jusufagić, he decided to start his business in Bosnia and Herzegovina as there are highly-skilled IT professionals that can offer high-quality services at comparatively lower prices.
“But there is another reason, namely the fact that my parents came to Sweden from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and this is my way to give something to their country, creating new jobs”, he said.
The basis for the establishment of the company in Sarajevo is the collaboration with Alfa Laval. Alfa Laval has been entrusted activity testing to System Verification, worth 45 million Swedish crowns (over 10 million) achieved only in three years. Some of these activities will now be performed in Sarajevo.
System Verification employs only its own staff in Sarajevo. Edhem Gigović, born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who worked as a test manager at the Swedish headquarters for five years, moved to Sarajevo and has become manager of the new office.
“Our ambition is to offer the same opportunities to more customers, which means that we are planning to expand business with more employees,” said Hamdija Jusufagić.
Enes Kahrimanovic – AUSTRONET
Austronet company produces netting for different purposes, such as advertising netting for tennis courts and protective netting for the construction industry, and exports 97% of total production. The company cooperates with major construction brands in the world, such as Baumit and Strabag, as well as all brands in the tennis world: Nike, Adidas, Fisher, Head, BNP Paribas, etc. Austronet is the recipient of numerous awards in the small enterprises category.
Enes Kahrimanovic left BiH in 1991 with his family, and in 1994 he started working with the Plastipack company. While working there, he noticed that certain components used in manufacturing, such as parts made of stainless steel and aluminium, were being imported from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Turkey and other countries. He then decided to find out which of the components used by the Plastipack could be produced in BiH, and the path of business success opened for him. The first job was agreed with the company Topinox from Prnjavor, whose conditions regarding the price, quality and delivery were far more favourable to those of the companies Plastipack had cooperated with until then, to the satisfaction of Austrian owners. After Topinox, cooperation was also established with the Gat company from Sanski Most, under equally favourable terms. Having found several other business partners in BiH, during a visit of the Austrian owners the decision was made to start companies in Kozarac, where Enes took full responsibility for the establishment and management of the companies.
In February 2007 two companies were registered: Beta Real, a construction company, and Austronet, a company manufacturing safety netting for agriculture and construction, protective nets for the tennis courts, protective sun sails for Soliday brand and printing billboards of unlimited dimensions on different materials.
The decisive moment for Kahrimanovic was the purchase of a land plot in Kozarac, and hiring five people in 2007.
In the next seven years, a 15.000 m2 centre was constructed, with 8,000 m2 of production halls. The total of over 10 million BAM was invested through the accounts of the two companies (Beta Real and Austronet).
Austronet experienced tremendous growth and now employs 68 people, with a total turnover of around 4 million BAM in 2013. The company nets 97% of export. All this, according to Enes, is the best proof that Austronet is in BiH to stay.
The company ranked first in 2010 among the small companies in BiH, for export performance, and also first for the net profit earned. At the end of 2013, Enes and Austronet company won the awards for the best manager and the best company in BiH for 2013.
What Enes Kahrimanovic dreamed of and worked for diligently was achieved: new jobs were created, new technologies introduced, production experts were retained in the country, and additional revenues for the local government generated.
Throughout the entire process of construction, more than half the money of the invested 10 million BAM was spent in Prijedor, through engagement of local companies. Austronet, among other things, supported by other companies in the region, managed to keep the customs office in Prijedor, although it was scheduled for relocation to Banja Luka.
Enes encountered numerous obstacles in the implementation of his plans. He spent whole days at the municipality building, collecting the necessary permits to start the production, and the entire process took a year. According to him, BiH has outdated legislation which (without delay) must be harmonized with the European laws, and coordination among relevant institutions must be improved.
However, what is very important to Enes is that some new ways of doing business were introduced, which are much more in line with the Western trends. In his opinion, the conditions in BiH are still very good to develop a business and make a good profit. He suggests to potential investors of BiH origin to consult with people who have already invested in the country before coming here, in order to be informed about all the positive and negative circumstances.
Senaid Husic – BONTEX
Bontex Maglaj Company, founded in 2005, produces high-quality shirts sold on the western market. Today the company has 200 employees, with plans to increase the number, and the ambition to become one of the European leaders in the production of men’s and women’s shirts by 2017.
Senaid Husic went to Switzerland in 1986, where he acquired knowledge and experience that he right away knew he wanted to use to help develop his place of origin, to which one day he will return.
Twenty years later he did it, realizing that Maglaj before the war had a developed textile industry and it is still an area worth investing in the postwar period. Husic then bought a prestigious Swiss company and its brands Ines and Danilo.
By signing partnership agreements with other foreign companies and moving the production to BiH, Husic built Bontex into a successful, innovative company that follows trends and consumer needs, with the monthly production volume of 25.000 men’s and women’s shirts.
Bontex almost has no competition in the domestic market, and its owner prefers doing business with local companies (Natron from Maglaj and Gira from Gracanica). Annually, Bontex places up to 700,000 KM to local companies in the region.
Senaid Husic believes that BiH diaspora has an invaluable development potential and that 2 million people of BiH origin currently living abroad can do a lot for the development of this country and he is persistent in his mission.
He says that the key to his success is making products with love.
Edin Miljkovic – REGENERACIJA d. o. o.
Regeneracija d.o.o. company from Velika Kladusa was founded in 2005. The main activity of the company is the manufacture and installation of wastewater and rainwater treatment devices and water supply systems. To date, the company has expanded its operations to the drainage of roads and bridges. The company employs 60 workers.
Edin Miljkovic left Krajina in 1994 and went to Germany, where he spent most of his time in Frankfurt. Although he progressed in the automotive sector, his life’s ambition to return to BiH and start his own business never subsided.
At the end of 2005, he meets the Slovene, Joze Berganti, who at that time was looking for a business partner in BiH in order to start production in the ecology sector. After the initial meetings the cooperation was agreed upon and Regeneracija company registered in October 2005. The production started in January 2006. At that moment, the company had three employees.
The main activity of the company is the manufacture and installation of wastewater and rainwater treatment devices and water supply systems. In addition, Regeneracija is engaged in trade through the representation of companies from around the world. Edin is most proud of the production because, he says, the hardest thing to do today is to produce.
The company currently has 63 employees and almost all of its turnover is done in BiH, in which Edin takes particular pride.
In the coming years, the company wants to focus on the further development of its staff and to invest in local communities wherever possible. Thus, Regeneracija participated in numerous projects in Mostar, Sarajevo and Bihac, which, in various ways, help children with special needs.
As Edin says, the company was founded in BiH and there are no plans to move it anywhere. In the coming years, Edin is sure that, with a bit luck, he will be able to realize all his plans because he believes that hard work always brings success and always pays off.
Adnan Mandzo – DDC
Adnan Mandzo was born in Sarajevo in 1977 and, due to the sequence of unfortunate circumstances in 1992, he fled to the Netherlands. Today he owns the IT company DDC which has been steadily growing every year. His motives to return to BiH, says Adnan, were private, emotional, and financial. He wanted a change and a new beginning, and also to contribute to the development of his native country because he believes it has big potential when it comes to successful business doing and progress.
Having worked for two years as a human resources manager at the DevLogic company, he accepted the position of director with the DDC. Subsequently, under Adnan’s leadership, the company consistently grew.
DDC provides administrative services to foreign companies, mostly related to data entering and processing (Business process outsourcing). Adnan believes that there is a huge range of services that can be provided and that most foreign companies can save by entrusting some parts of the work to someone else, such as DDC, who is cheaper and faster in doing it for them.
The strength of the company, according to Adnan, is its diversity in terms of the number of languages the employees are actively using.
The company mainly employs young people, and the number of employees often varies, given that most of the staff is hired on a project basis. On the average, the company employs between 20 and 30 people, 70% of whom are women.
Not only that the company contributes to creation of new jobs, it also offers opportunities for employment and easier integration to members of the diaspora who have decided to return to the country, but also to young people who are beginning their careers and want to learn something new, and stay in BiH. In addition, the company often hires people who have been unemployed for a long time and DDC is often a springboard for them, to find employment more easily in other companies, and higher positions.
Paperwork and bureaucracy is a major obstacle that DDC encounters on a daily basis, as do all other companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina: it is very difficult to come up with incentives, for example, for employment of young people and women.
The company plans to introduce the provision of documents’ digitizing services. “Damages are considerable in hard times, as was the case with the recent fires or floods, which can partially or completely destroy the invaluable archives”, said Adnan. “For all of us, as well as our children, it is of utmost importance to preserve our heritage and prevent that such documents disappear forever”.
The IT sector, according to Adnan, has ideal potential for incentives and investment, and does not require any physical transport of goods. What is needed is the IT infrastructure and high-speed internet connection, which is on a quite high level in BiH. He concludes that we need not go far to see the examples of good practices, such as the case of Poland, that has benefited enormously in this sector, and which in 2013 organized the world’s largest IT conference, previously held in Germany.
Edin Saracevic – HUB 387
Edin Saracevic left his native Sarajevo in 1995 and settled in the United States, where he founded his first IT company, and three more later on. He returned to BiH in 2013, committed to establishing his first information-programming HUB (HUB387) in Sarajevo. This increasingly popular business concept involves bringing a large number of IT companies to one location. HUB 387 currently consists of 16 companies, such as: Mistral Technologies, Authority Partners, Starting Point, NEST 71, OliveBH and others.
By setting up the HUB, Edin seeks to prevent the departure of talented and valuable experts to foreign countries and cities such as Berlin, known for its HUBS, thus contributing to the development of the domestic economy, with a focus on the IT sector.
Edin considers Sarajevo his home and a place he is very emotionally attached to, which is the reason that the HUB was set up right here. He considers his stay in the USA a temporary solution, even though he spent twenty years there.
HUB 387 or as Edin calls it “Disneyland for IT” seeks to house the entire IT industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina under one roof and on an area of over 2,400 m2, provide superior education to IT specialist and allow the people of Sarajevo to work on the largest IT projects in the world. The basic advantages of doing business in HUB are opportunities for intensive cooperation, faster exchange of knowledge as well as joint activities of small and medium IT companies.
Through networking and strengthening competitiveness, this would be a way to access new and larger markets and enable the creation of new jobs. Other benefits, according to Edin, including significant savings in the cost of renting space, heating and utilities, actively participating in and attending various training courses, seminars and hackatons, etc.
There is also room there for IT freelancers NEST 71, for those who do not have already formed teams. Edin, as a co-founder, says that this concept is reminiscent of Google’s. The Nest 71 now has the incubation of eight start-up companies that will introduce new ways of doing business and will have mentors from Silicon Valley, California, as an area with the highest concentration of important high-tech companies in the world. In addition to mentoring, these companies will be provided with necessary financial and all other support infrastructure.
Edin has recognized the importance of the work and education of young people. For this reason, HUB 387 has launched some courses/trainings for high school students and also plans to work in primary schools, so as to popularise the IT industry among the younger generation. In his opinion, IT segment can become one of the major strategic, developmental pillars for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
According to Edin, young people are reluctant through no fault of their own; instead, it is the legacy of the former system, where we were used to not taking responsibility. But in general, Edin thinks that BiH has many smart and talented young people, and that we are creative and able to improvise as people, which is highly appreciated as a quality in the IT sector.
In BiH, as in any other country, it is impossible to work and operate without problems, says Edin, but too much energy and resources are spent on time consuming administrative procedures. In Edin’s view, the key is in mutual cooperation between the diaspora and youth in BiH. Firstly, it is necessary to find out who our diaspora is and how they can contribute to our development. Next, it is necessary to develop a platform that will allow for an easier flow of financial and human resources to diaspora community in BiH through concrete pilot initiatives. If this proves useful, these initiatives should be further developed and improved.
The new digital world, especially IT, according to Edin, opens up new and incredible possibilities. In his opinion, popularization of IT should be done in a far more systematic and organised way, rather than being reduced to sporadic initiatives.
Tomislav Ladan – Thermoflux
ThermoFLUX company for installation of heating systems was founded in 2007, starting from a small family craft with three employees. The company is engaged in the production of hot water boilers and pellet and coal fireplaces, witnessing a steady growth from year to year, and exporting over 30% of its production. ThermoFLUX currently employs 68 workers.
When Tomislav Ladan left his home Jajce in 1992, with his parents and four siblings, due to unfortunate circumstances, he never dreamed that he would be back 22 years later, running the most successful company in domestic property in the region.
In 2006 Mr. Ladan founded the TermoFLUX, beginning to produce pellet boilers once realizing that boilers using mostly solid fuel (coal and wood) did not meet the requirements of his customers for whom he installed heating through company Tremag. Tomislav has managed to buy off the facilities of the completely devastated halls of the former Sedinac company for 1.5 million BAM, and he spent additional 800.000 for renovation. The company expands 17.000 m2, and the halls – 6,000 m2.
Due to the global rise in oil prices and the increasing popularity of environmentally friendly fuels, TermoFLUX company is experiencing explosive growth, given that most of those who were previously heating with fuel oil are increasingly deciding to buy pellet boilers, because they do not see an alternative in coal and wood.
In 2013, 41% of the total production was exported, mainly to the countries of former Yugoslavia, mostly Croatia and Macedonia, although some of the export went to Germany, Greece, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, France and Great Britain. In addition, ThermoFLUX emerged as one of the market leaders in this segment in BiH, as a company that is competitive in the European market.
Tomislav Ladan believes that our country offers many opportunities, and that one only needs to remain faithful to one’s idea. His optimism is based on the fact that in 2013, 59% of his overall production was made in BiH, in a country that is small and relatively poor. In the future, he plans for a production of parts for other companies, and sale of wood-chip boilers.
Tomislav has never regretted his return to his hometown Jajce, and says that, if he could go 15 years back in time, he would still choose Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Goran Pejicic and Gordana Kljakic, Perfetto Plus
Perfetto Plus is the most popular company in eastern Herzegovina in the manufacture and sale of ecologically clean, domestic, traditional and dairy products from the area of Nevesinje. Currently, the company employs four staff and has approximately 150 contractors. Since this is a family enterprise, the production process involves members of the immediate and extended family.
Brother and sister, Goran Pejicic and Gordana Kljakic, and their company, Perfetto Plus from Nevesinje, are one of those brave and valuable exceptions, raising hopes for a better tomorrow.
After five years in Italy, where he worked in a cheese factory, Mr. Pejicic out of love for his hometown Nevesinje returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with his sister Gordana, and, in 1997 he founded a company for the production of cheese and other dairy products, Perfetto Plus.
A 20-liter container with which they began manufacturing is still used in the family house in Nevesinje, although the production increased, and the house was a subject of continuous adaptations in order to meet this growth.
The first cheese they produced was the Italian Fiocchi di latte. After that, they invested a lot of effort in the production of various cheeses from Nevesinje area on the basis of traditional recipes.
Today, Perfetto Plus is the most popular company in eastern Herzegovina, known for the production and sale of dairy products. The company produces a variety of cheeses and dairy products such as local kačkavalj cheese, thick cream (kajmak) cheese, mozzarella of Nevesinje, cheese for pies, dietetic cheese, torotan cheese, feta cheese, full-fat cheese from the bellows etc. and their customers have only words of praise for these products.
Specialties the company is particularly proud of are the cheese from the bellows and thick cream (kajmak) cheese, and those are also the most sought after. At first, the traditional products of this kind were sold in limited quantities in the market, and after the launch of Perfetto Plus they have become available to customers across Herzegovina.
Given that this is a family company, the production process involves members of the immediate and extended family, and the company employs four staff and 150 contractors. Customers are both large and small stores, retail chains in Nevesinje area and beyond.
In order to employ a higher level of production capacity of the Perfetto Plus company, it is necessary to primarily increase the production capacity of small producers to purchase from. The long-term plan of the company is to relocate the production to another location, which will allow for faster growth and better-working conditions. Additional challenges for the company are the collection of payments and standardisation of quality and taste of the product produced in line with the most stringent criteria.
The company’s success was achieved thanks to Goran’s and Gordana’s hard work, continuous improvement and a number of experiments that have been a great joy for this business enthusiastic duo, when successful.
Gordana emphasizes that no place in the world is ideal, but that neither her family nor she wanted to be anywhere else than in their native land where they find it to be the most beautiful of all.
Source: Emigration and development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Best practices
Since 2012, Pi Consulting has been in the group of BiH OECD Gazelles – SMEs that have demonstrated rapid growth, employment generation and social responsibility
Pi Consulting is a dynamic consulting company established by Emina Kadric. Following her return to Bosnia and Herzegovina from UK in 2001, Ms Kadric decided to establish Pi Consulting, which operates out Sarajevo, and focuses on EU accession economic development and institutional capacity building issues in the Western Balkans region. The company is active in economic development and EU-related reform projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo, with a particular emphasis on institutional development and the development of capacities required to successfully meet the requirements of EU integration. Pi Consulting’s business unit TORTE i to is also very active in Corporate Social Responsibility. The company’s assets include a pool of experts who are specialists recognized in their respective areas of economic management and analysis, institutional development and EU integration.
Emina Kadric is an accomplished consultant specializing in European integration issues, public administration reform, and institutional coordination with a growing focus on economic development in the context of EU accession and harmonization processes. She has a thorough understanding of the Western Balkans region and the BiH political, economic and constitutional system. Ms Kadric has carried out numerous capacity building and institutional review assignments for institutions including the European Commission, the European Union Special Representative in BiH, Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to BiH and the BiH Civil Service Agency where she successfully provided training for 800+ civil servants on EU integration issues. Ms Kadric also worked for the Delegation of the European Commission to BiH, including as Task Manager and Economic Advisor. Ms Kadric was awarded Manager of the Year by the Kamelon M&M Group and Federal Chamber of Commerce in their competition for Gazelles.
James Strombeck – Jitasa
Jitasa is the leading US company in accounting and bookkeeping for Non-Profit sector and Non-Governmental Organizations, recently has been established in Bosnia and Herzegovina where now employs 16 people. All employees are young people under 30 years old.
The first intention of Jitasa was to establish its head office in Thailand. Nevertheless, following the advice of Market Makers on how in Bosnia and Herzegovina are highly-skilled professionals that can offer high-quality services in accordance with market needs and trends at lower costs, the company decided to headquarter in Sarajevo.
Jitasa was established in February, 2016 after having held the Boot Camp Program for Non-Profit Accounting, where 10 candidates immediately got permanent job in Sarajevo.
Take a look in the video below to hear experiences of Jitasa company’s employees.