In order to support the endeavor of the countries of the Western Balkans, the Centre for European Perspective (CEP) has been engaged in the entrepreneurial programmes for the last five years and its main objective is empowerment of young entrepreneurs from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Empowerment is understood in many layers – support in development of their idea, networking with colleagues from the region and wider, introducing them and their ideas to investors from all over the world as well as enable them to connect with peers from all across their country. The ultimate goal is to unite them in an informal setting that offers framework for cooperation, discussion and shaping of national policies. Encouraging young ones to contribute their perception of the world to the national policy process is essential for brighter future in their homeland.
Programme started in beginning of the year with two workshops in Sarajevo and Pristina and continued with online challenge where entrepreneurs needed to present their idea, team and business plans. Workshops were well visited which resulted in high number of submitted applications – 75 from Kosovo and 34 from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A selection committee selected best 10 ideas from each country and invited two people from each to come in May to Slovenia. Their transport, accommodation and meals were organized, along with ticket for PODIM conference.
CEP prepared an intensive and interesting programme which included meetup with Ambassadors from their countries, representatives of Slovene Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for the Western Balkan policies, pitches in front of experienced investors, discussion with start-up mentors and experts for entrepreneurship development. On 15 and 16 May 2018 the group of young and promising entrepreneurs moved to Maribor to participate in the biggest networking event for start-ups in the Alps-Adriatic Region, to take part in the PODIM Challenge pitching competition and to meet PODIM investors and blue-chip partners.
Programme in Maribor involved a number of intriguing lectures, panels and round-table discussions on business, business development, investments, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, block chain technology and ICOs and other topics that are of high interest to the young entrepreneurs. As part of the programme, PODIM Challenge TOP 20 took place in which the best 20 start-ups attending the conference pitched their ideas in front of an expert jury – and there was as well one start-up from Bosnia and Herzegovina among them – Meerkiddo.
Youngsters concluded their visit with bunch of positive stories, new contacts and connections, and even new ideas for their future developments. They have promised to stay in touch, support each other and in return for great opportunity, share their expertise with new start-ups that are yet to emerge in their local surroundings.
Programme is part of the Centre for European Perspective’s activities that are supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Slovenia’s Development Cooperation.
List of the selected BiH and Kosovo selected start-ups
Evaluation of the programme of BiH participant – start-up Meerkiddo
Some tips and hints from Dr Jernej Pintar, Technology Park of Ljubljana