Having a decent job and making a living from work is an unfulfilled dream for many women in small communities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, but this story is somewhat different. It is a story about a group of women supported by the European Union, who have embraced the opportunity and turned their knowledge and skills into a successful business. It is a story about a woman run company from Jablanica that employs women. The business originated from a nongovernmental organisation called Most (Bridge) as an initiative of a group of women who wanted to start a joint business and embark on a journey of women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment for themselves and their families.
The idea came from twenty-seven years old Merima Kukić, now a young entrepreneur, who lost her job last year with the outbreak of Covid-19. Merima recognized the chance to change the situation and make her own way by applying to the public call for entrepreneurial training “Start your own business“, supported by the European Union, and performed in accordance with the methodology of the International Labor Organization. Merima selflessly shared the idea with other members of her association. Together they seized the opportunity, and decided to start an organic farming business of their own.
“I have always been fascinated by how a single seed develops into a fruit that finds its way to our tables and tasty dishes. I often think about what is put into the food we consume, so I guess that too inspired me to choose organic farming”, said Merima and added “In addition to the knowledge we acquired during the training organised under the EU4Business project, we prepared a business plan and here we are, the proud beneficiaries of a grant that enabled us to start a company we named MOST M Jablanica.”
The basic service that seven currently employed women offer is fruit and vegetable processing; however, they offer other services as well, including catering, tailoring, souvenir making and cleaning services. They say their business is successful: they are able to make a living from their work and plan to expand their business to create new jobs.
“We do everything – from procuring fruit, grading, washing, grinding, squeezing juice, pasteurization and sterilization until we get a healthy final product that we can proudly place on the market and offer to our customers. We offer an organic product that can’t be found or bought everywhere”, said Ćamila Imamović, one of the employees.
They are aware that their success would not have been possible without the EU4Business project and support from the EU and ILO, which further empowered them and gave them the opportunity to take control of their lives and build a business career.
“For me, this support was priceless because not only did it steer me towards employment, but also helped other women get a job. We are grateful to the European Union, which made it possible for us to start a business of our own and make our joint dream come true”, pointed out Merima Kukić.
“”For us women, this type of support was especially important because we were finally given an opportunity to work and create some new values”, added Đenana Ćosić, one of the employees.
For these women, starting a business has brought about employment, successful growth and progress in all aspects of life. However, the story does not end here.
“We are confident when it comes to the quality of our products and have every reason to be optimistic because we believe that we have the capacity to expand our production and employ more women in the future”, concluded Merima.
With their successful business and positive attitudes, these women entrepreneurs showcase that women in BiH are capable of bravely walking in entrepreneurial shoes. Their success story can serve not only as an inspiration for all women in this country, but also valuable testimony to the support the EU provides through the EU4Business project – for a competitive and innovative domestic economy.