• Evaluating the impact of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economic forum

    Belma Hadžiomerović, Raiffeisen Bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina, interviewed Emir Kurtic

    In February, Sarajevo hosted the third edition of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Economic Forum. One of its organizers, Emir Kurtic from the Sarajevo Faculty of Economics, spoke to Discover CEE about the importance of the forum.

    Dr Emir Kurtic, Sarajevo Faculty of Economics

    The Economic Forum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is an annual gathering of representatives of the BiH executive government, local and regional companies, the diplomatic sector and the academic community. It has been organized in Sarajevo since 2017 and so far, it has attracted more than 1,000 participants every year.

    “A central idea behind the BiH Economic Forum is to establish a platform for an open dialogue between representatives of the business community, the academic community and economic policy makers in the country,” says Dr Kurtic. “By organising this forum, the Sarajevo University’s Faculty of Economics is trying to contribute to the development of stronger ties between different interest and influential groups sharing a common business interest in BiH – concrete proposals and guidelines for the creation of future economic policies also set as concrete goal of the forum.”

    The program for all three forums held so far was organized in three or four sessions covering key economic topics in BiH.

    “Some of the topics covered included reforms, the business environment, the importance of the academic community, public-private partnerships, the rule of law and legal security as a basis for investment and development, the quality of university education, as well as economic cooperation between the Republic of Austria and BiH – this was the central topic of the last forum,” adds Dr Kurtic.

    The forum concluded that the definite priority for BiH is to solve its economic issues, while the region needs to establish a set of active reform policies to raise competitiveness via public-private partnerships. “The forum also discussed university education and the employment of young people upon completion of their studies. We need to find a better method of cooperation between employers and universities and to work on developing a more efficient support mechanism for graduate students in their job hunting process. University enrollment policies should account for real sector needs, while universities and representatives of the business community should jointly promote the importance of quality university education,” says Dr Kurtic.

    In Dr Kurtic’s opinion, the BiH business environment must be shifted from an economy of seeking support and cheap labor to one that focuses on innovation and the production of highly sophisticated products and services.

    “Improvements may also extend to investors by providing them with a more favorable environment,” he says. “This can be made possible only through reforms of the present conditions, thus ensuring the rule of law and sound management in line with top EU standards. We are all aware by now that the road to the EU requires the elimination of any setbacks present in BiH. Key factors to the BiH image improvement would be the security of investments, as well as institutional and political stability.”

    When it comes to exports, Dr Kurtic believes that only leading companies are currently in a position to export their products.

    “In terms of investment in this country, the situation in BiH has much improved via new technologies, best practices, innovations, research and development investments, new jobs and the creation of market opportunities that foreign companies have brought and will continue to bring to our country. One of key conclusions of the third forum is that the Republic of Austria, as the largest investor in BiH, needs to remain committed to further improving economic and political cooperation with BiH.”

    Dr Kurtic also believes that the positive effects of the forum regarding the generation of new investments in BiH reflect in, among other things, the fact that the formal program of this year’s forum included participants from one of the most developed EU countries – the Republic of Austria.

    “At the third economic forum in BiH, Austria has re-confirmed its strong commitment to cooperation with BiH. This refers to both the official state level and individual investors. Austrian investments in BiH show a constant increase, as attested by the fact that there are approximately 200 Austrian companies in BiH employing over 7,000 people.”

  • Doing business in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Two companies share their stories

    By Amra Tabaković and Irma Ahmetspahic, Raiffeisen Bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina As in most countries, small and medium-sized companies play an important role in the economic growth of Bosnia and Herzegovina and are essential for creating new jobs. But overcoming obstacles and starting a solid business is never easy. Begex doo Hadžići, a kitchen […]

  • Land of Basketball

    By Nemanja Naunović, Raiffeisen banka in Serbia | Sport plays an important role in Serbia, with football and basketball being the most popular. There is even a funny expression: “every Serb is a national team head coach”, be it football basketball, volleyball, water polo, handball or any other sport in which the nation has had […]

  • “In Croatia you have to eat Janjetina many times before you get to a deal”

    By Alexandra Jocham, RBI | The Austrian economic delegate in Zagreb, Sonja Holocher-Ertl, spoke with Discover CEE about interesting business locations in Croatia, gave first-hand tips for doing business and how to escape crowded beaches in summer. Ms. Holocher-Ertl, what is it that makes Croatia attractive for investors? Croatia is the youngest EU member country, […]

  • “If you decide for an investment in Romania, do it for the long term”

    By Alexandra Jocham, RBI | Discover CEE talked with Gerd Bommer, Austrian economic delegate in Bucharest, about the attractiveness of Romania for investors, interesting business locations and first-hand tips for doing business.  Mr. Bommer, what makes Romania attractive for investors? Romania is an economy with a relatively strong and big domestic market, which is the main […]

  • „Romania is my home”

    By Carmen Dimitruc and Anca Hasegan, Raiffeisen Bank, Romania | Steven van Groningen, Raiffeisen Bank’s CEO for the past 17 years, is Dutch but calls Romania his home. He has become used to the way of thinking and feeling Romanian, although he has retained a healthy dose of “Western awareness” which helps him identify balanced […]

  • Expat Experience: There is no such thing as “the Austrians”, “the Czechs” or “the Serbs”.

    By Veronika Nováková, Raiffeisenbank a.s. Czech Republic | Martin Stotter certainly isn’t hesitant about crossing borders to accept an attractive job offer. It’s quite the opposite. As a board member of Czech Raiffeisenbank, a member of the RBI Group, he has already been working abroad for several years. His journey began in the banking sector […]

  • Expat life: A day in Minsk with Bernd Rozenberg

    By Darya Shakuro, Priorbank Belarus | A light Austrian breakfast with bread and jam, strenuous work with banking risks, a lunch with lard, running after a working day and an evening with a book by Stephen Hawking. Bernd Rozenberg, board member of Priorbank, told us about his daily routine and life in Belarus as an […]

  • Jewish Life in Vienna – A Conversation with Oskar Deutsch, President of the Jewish Community Vienna

    By Christof Danz, RBI | The rise of Vienna to a modern cosmopolitan city at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century is inseparably linked with its Jewish community. Important Jewish writers, artists and scientists such as Gustav Mahler, Arthur Schnitzler, Sigmund Freud or Arnold Schönberg, to name but a few, […]

  • “Everything is possible with a good team”

    By Katja Fiedler, RBI | Florian Gschwandtner, co-founder of the fitness app Runtastic, talks about creating motivation out of an investor’s “no”, being an investor himself now and how to learn from setbacks. Mr. Gschwandtner, you are one of Austria’s most successful start-up founders. In retrospect, what was the biggest challenge in founding Runtastic? The […]