The final conference of the EU-funded project “Inclusive Economic Growth and Employment Generation in Eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina – Birač Region” presented the project’s successful entrepreneurial stories named “Women Entrepreneurs for the Future” on 8th March in Sarajevo.
The project supported the competitiveness of SMEs from the food production sector and agriculture cooperatives in four target municipalities, Vlasenica, Bratunac, Srebrenica and Milići. In total 26 grants for SMEs and agriculture cooperatives in the Birač region were provided. In addition, 30 women entrepreneurs received the grants for implementation of their business plans in order to increase employment in socially endangered businesses.
On this occasion, Andrea Vera, Head of Operations Section for Economic Development, Trade, Infrastructure and Natural Resources at the EU Delegation to BiH reflected on the everlasting battle for gender equality. “If we look back on the beginning of the 20th century, very few professions were open to women. People considered that women were not made for a working life let alone for being entrepreneurs. But this idea has not stood the test of time, and we all know women who have had successful professional lives and have contributed to the development of our societies“, Vera said.
Vera has also underlined the EU’s commitment to the local economic development in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “This projects is part of the wider EU support to the local economic development as we have invested 55 million euro in 15 years, creating hundreds of jobs and supporting hundreds of entrepreneurs directly. Our activities in this regard will continue, as a new economic development programme worth 15 million euro is currently under preparation,” Vera concluded.
Sumka Bučan, Director of CARE International Balkans emphasised the progress made by women entrepreneurs during the project. “Today, on International Women’s Day we are presenting successful stories of women entrepreneurs in the Birac region. When we look at the environment in which they’re started their businesses we can say they are real heroes, women that should be celebrated every day“, Bučan said.
Nada Marković, representative of the Women’s Cooperative “Žena” (“Women”) founded within the project described the cooperative as crucial for the implementation of women entrepreneurs’ business plans and finding suitable markets.
The participants had the opportunity to see the promotional film about the women entrepreneurs and an exhibition of photos taken during the three-year programme. Total value of the project is 720.000,00 Euro of which the EU contributed 500.000,00 Euro while other donors were CARE Austria and the Austrian Development Agency. It was implemented from January 2014 to December 2016.