Empowering future entrepreneurs

The StartUp Academy, focusing on acquiring modern entrepreneurial skills through practical work, has been established in Gračanica and Žepče thanks to the support of the European Union and German government through the EU ProLocal Programme.

Recently established StartUp Academy in Gračanica and Žepče enabled the participants to acquire knowledge and skills useful for the success of their business ideas. It is particularly important to mention that the Academy was attended by 12 women and 15 young people aged under 40 who are considered to be vulnerable categories regarding unemployment.

The participants worked with experts in the field of finance, marketing and business economics, and within seven educational modules and a curriculum of 80 hours they passed through the most important steps in the development of a business model,” explained the Director of the Development Agency of Žepče, Mrs. Branka Janko.

This Development Agency has established the Academy as part of the project “Increasing the development potential through the introduction of instruments that encourage entrepreneurship, inter-municipal cooperation and new investments” in cooperation with the Municipality of Gračanica. The project was implemented thanks to the financial support of the European Union and the German Government through the EU ProLocal Programme, implemented by GIZ.

“This is an education-mentorship program that aims to provide support to people with good business ideas in the initial stage of development and within which future entrepreneurs learn about “entrepreneurs’ craft”, said Mrs. Janko.

Significant initiative for young people

Academy students gained knowledge of business models, creating value that customers are looking for, marketing and branding basics, and perfecting presentation and negotiating skills, thus creating the foundation for the success of their entrepreneurial venture. Out of a total of 18 participants and 12 business ideas that were developed, four were selected as the best.

“We received practical advices and practical examples through which we learned how to present our idea and attract investors, business partners, and customers,” said Dijana Jelić from Žepče, creator of one of the winning business ideas. Her application will alert parents around BiH and the world when it is the time to give medication to their ill kids, and it will provide tracking of the temperature and other information relevant to the treatment process. The application is currently under development and it will be available in English.

Dijana emphasized the initiatives such as the StartUp Academy are very useful in all environments, and in particular in smaller municipalities.“If I take my idea as an example, I realize that I would never have known where to start with the further development of business. And now I have enough business knowledge, and I can proudly say that I am from Žepče, but that I have an idea that excited people in Sarajevo and in Zagreb,” said Dijana.

Kenan Mehić and Kerim Grbić from Gračanica, want to introduce a hydroponic system in their region, and then in entire Bosnia and Herzegovina, to grow organic fruit and vegetables in water without using soil, while simultaneously farming fish that produce natural fertilizers for plants. This new trend in production ensures healthy and fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the year and higher yields compared to the traditional way of farming.

“Startup academies are a unique opportunity for young people to improve, and they do not allow you to stand at one point, but to constantly advance,” said Kenan and Kerim.

Take a look at the video of other experiences of the Academy’s attendees.

“The Startup Academy will continue with its work after this project as a permanent instrument through which we will work on developing and supporting entrepreneurship in general, and especially among young people and women in Žepče and Gračanica, as well as spreading examples of good practice for start-up businesses in neighboring municipalities who expressed their interest in this type of program,” concluded Mrs. Janko.

EU ProLocal programme successfully helps economic development in BiH. The European Union finances the Programme with nine, and the German Government with four million euro.