Thanks to the support they received through EU4Business project funded by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany, the Visoko-based Očuz Company hired new staff, improved product quality, and increased production by 20%.
Melisa Neimarlija is a food technologist and has just landed a job with the Očuz Company. In a white coat and with a mask on her face, Melissa shows production facilities for various meat products that Visoko is widely known for. The smell of traditional dried and ground meat spreads as soon as you step foot through the front door. Melissa has only words of praise for her new colleagues. “Everyone welcomed me and helped a lot. You won’t hear them saying that they won’t or can’t do something”, she says.
Melissa is one of three newly-employed in the Očuz Company thanks to an investment of nearly BAM 300,000 supported by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany with BAM 147,000 in grants through EU4Business project. The investment included procurement of an industrial mixer and meat production lines, thus helping the Očuz Company to advance with production and new employments. The plan is to hire two more; thus, the total number of employees in this company will rise to 14.
“Product quality was the most important for us, and it has improved greatly with these new machines,” says Mirzet Očuz, owner of the Očuz Company, founded in 2006 as a family business. “We increased production by 20% and immediately landed new accounts, which was of major importance to us.” As a result, the company signed an agreement with a leading shopping mall from Bosnia and Herzegovina where they began selling their products.
Investment support was obtained by applying to the public call for grants in 2019, and meeting all its criteria. Under this Public Call, EU4Business project aimed to facilitate modernisation of production and strengthen production competitiveness through the introduction of new technologies and innovations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“It was demanding to have the documents prepared, but the effort paid off,” recalls Amna Očuz, the company’s accountant, adding, “We made things easier for the workers.”
Technologist Admir, who has been with Očuz for eight years, agrees. “The machines made it much easier for us. It’s all faster now and it’s a physically easier job. What used to be manual is now automated”, says Admir, explaining that now “muscles are only needed for smoker facilities that will remain traditional”.
In addition to new machines, the company has also invested in marketing and branding, creating a new logo and product design for better recognition in the market. As for future plans, Mirzet Očuz admits that it is very difficult to plan anything, given the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also globally. “In any case, with or without Covid, show must go on. In production, that’s the nature of the beast. You always have to progress, advance, invest.”
EU4Business is European Union’s project that aims to strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacity for economic growth and employment by fostering competitiveness and innovation in selected sectors. EU4Business is worth EUR 16.1 million; EUR 15 million is funded by the European Union and EUR 1.1 million by the Federal Republic of Germany. Project is jointly implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), UNDP and International Labor Organisation (ILO). EU4Business is part of the Local Development Strategies – Local Self-Government and Economic Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).