Yesterday, the congress Spring School 012: Doing Business in Digital Environment at the University of Belgrade has ended and I will fly back from Serbia to Germany tomorrow. Organized by the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, I was among the 30 students from universities of Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, who had the chance to attend lectures, workshops and teamwork projects to given topics, such as Marketing, Financing and IT-Law.
It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon, perfect for reflecting on the past week, taking a step back from ‘digital communication strategies’ and ‘internal rate or returns’, to gain a wider perspective over the entrepreneurial culture of Serbia.
Entrepreneurship, which is the key point for the socio-economic development of every country, is officially considered to be a major driving force to Serbia’s development of the economy. A high unemployment rate and low labor costs combined with excellent language and IT skills seem to represent promising conditions for future business ventures. Recent studies did confirm the benefit of entrepreneurship in the transitioning economy and also it’s growing national popularity. The entrepreneurial culture of Serbia is prospering due to several factors over the last few years.
Taken at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport
Continuing Serbia’s long march toward economic recovery, several programs have been established to support entrepreneurial culture and entrepreneurial way of thinking. After citizen’s demand, the National Agency for Regional Development is offering support programs and packages and also funding is given by the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development and the state’s Development Fund. Upon that, Belgrade is yearly holding it’s own Global Entrepreneurship Week to reach out to create a new generation of entrepreneurial talent that strives for success while staying at home.
European Union Membership
Furthermore, Serbia’s efforts to become a member of the European Union lead to numerous changes in the entrepreneurial landscape, originating from its domestic front but also powered by the European Union itself. Their action plan Strategy for Competitive and Innovative Small and Medium Sized Enterprises is executed from 2008 until 2013 and is trying to tackle the country’s corruption, bureaucracy and weak judicial system. Just last Thursday, a new Law on the capital market has been passed, that will level the status of domestic and foreign investors and protect small shareholders, to make the market more transparent. The implementation of these regulations (among others) are necessary for the future membership in the EU. Apart from the reduction of administrative barriers to business regulatory compliance, the European Union itself is already supporting Serbia’s overall socio-economic development through several programs (e.g. Enterprise Europe Network, Youth Entrepreneurship Civil-Public Relationship and Mentors of Women Entrepreneurship in Serbia). The European Civil Society Support alone approved projects sums of 4 million Euro last year, which beats the annual revenue of Serbia’s most profitable company (NIS: 3.7€ million).
But also countries like the U.S.A. and Norway have made investments in form of foreign assistance for training programs, concentrating on startups.
Although all these changes over the last few years lead to an increase of interest in entrepreneurship -driven by the belief that it promotes a better life, administrative issues associated with the government, political instability and economic uncertainty are holding back Serbia’s economic potential.
As its political and economic stability is returning, it is likely Serbia will gain greater impact on the local and European economy assembling a great potential for investors and entrepreneurs in the future. But until that, Serbia has a long way to go to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
I would love to hear your opinions about the entrepreneurial landscape of Serbia. Feel free to use the comment box on the right.