Articles - BIP Croatia

Follow up visit by BIP reveals excellent progress

August 2009

Srendja School Dalj - 8 Student Enterprises with new students are involving themselves in marketing and production. The products are everything to do with strawberries and here they do not limit themselves just to strawberries, but also see opportunities for other products including cuttings, wine, sauces and dressings.

The result has been very good. They have created a lot of interest and managed to generate income through sales that has enabled the school to develop, renovate and acquire more area from which to expand.

Croatian melons for Norwegian customers

Norwegian customers are increasing their import of seedless Watermelons and Cantaloupe melons from Croatia. In 2005 BIP ran a test export project together with three local producers. One year later, BIP has increased the number of producers to five with the goal of exporting 50 tons of melons every week during the season. Despite cold weather in Croatia at the beginning of June, this amount seems to be achievable. The producers use only non-toxic products to help grow their melons and follow EU standards. Representatives from Norwegian customers visited the local producers and their fields on June 19 and 20, and found everything in good order and on schedule for the first delivery timed for July 19.

UPDATE! 08 August 2006:

Two shipments of 50 tons each, both with canteloupe melons and water melons, one shipment for Norway and one for Denmark, mark the begining of the weekly shipments that will continue all through the season.

House of Music from Croatia

The best Student Enterprise in Croatia in 2005 was House of Music from Osijek . Andrej Mesaric and Nikola Krauz are both interested in music and turned their interest into a Student Enterprise. The boys felt that a wider variety of musical events was lacking in Osijek and now the House of Music is busy organizing concerts and parties for young people. As first prize they were awarded a trip to Norway and the Student Enterprise Fair held in Fredrikstad on February 7, 2006. Here they met two Student Enterprises from Serbia , best overall winner LoBoKo and Public award winner SITAM. Among other things, they visited the Nobel Peace Center and other sites in Oslo together.

Croatian VET Agency visit Norway

The VET Agency is the newly established Agency for Vocational Education in Croatia . Their main task is to develop and implement educational strategies in the Croatian secondary school system. The Director Ivan Sutalo and Ana Lasic, Head of the Department for International Cooperation, visited Norway to get information about the Norwegian educational system and Student Enterprises. They visited several secondary schools, the Student Enterprise Fair in Fredrikstad held on February 7, 2006, and had meetings with the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). The VET Agency will probably use the Norwegian experience regarding Student Enterprises to develop a similar system in Croatia .

6th Annual Student Enterprise Fair in Croatia

What could be more exciting than the final exhibition to showcase the students’ efforts in entrepreneurship? That’s what students in Croatia thought in December, when they competed for the award of Best Student Enterprise in the region.

At the fair were 30 Student Enterprises from Croatia and 3 from Serbia, with all together about 200 participants. The event was organized jointly by Center for Entrepreneurship in Osijek and Business Innovation Programs, with support from the local City authorities. The event took place in huge Mercator shopping mall in Osijek, where lots of visitors were able to enjoy the stands.

In addition to the good fun and dynamic show program, the students presented their most creative ideas in the hope of winning prizes in three fields: The best business idea and business plan; the best presentation/stand; and the most innovative product. The Student Enterprise that gained the highest result in all three categories was awarded the title of “Overall Best Student Enterprise” and presented with the prize of a trip to Norway in February.

Lots of stands and interest at the Fair

The “Overall Best Student Enterprise” award went to “House of Music” from the Economic School in Osijek; the guys organize various parties, play an excellent music, and are able to raise the spirit and make some really good fun! Bravo guys!

Business development projects supported by NOA and BIP

BIP is pleased to announce that its cooperation agreement with NOA has been renewed for a new period of 3 years. So far the existing cooperation agreement has resulted in the granting of 73 business development loans. The loans have typically been made to new start-ups and for developing existing enterprises, particularly in the agricultural sector. The loans are characterized by their low interest rates and generous grace period. Of the 73 loans made so far, 43 have been paid back in full while 30 are still current.

NOA and BIP also work together on special loans for export related projects.

One of the many business development projects supported by NOA and BIP

Hanging strawberries in Croatia

The agricultural school in Dalj wanted to start growing greenhouse strawberries in a new way - vertically! BIP found the idea interesting and established a cooperation project to focus on both training in methods and promotion of this unique way of growing strawberries.

The 500 m2 greenhouse containing 12,500 plants was officially opened on September 15th. The first harvest, due in the middle of October, is expected to yield 2-300 kilos of top quality strawberries for the home market in Croatia.

Trial export project from East Slovenia

The first refrigerated truckload of watermelons, cantaloupe melons, green paprika and sweet corn left a group of several small producers of fruit and vegetables for Coop Norway on August 2nd, arriving on August 5th.

Coop immediately upon arrival ordered a new truckload of melons that left on August 17th for arrival on August 22nd.

The quality of the initial consignment of sweet corn was not up to standard on arrival owing to storage conditions prior to departure, but these now been rectified for future consignments.

The green paprika had an acceptable quality, but some adjustments need to be made to make the product more acceptable to Norwegian consumers’ traditional preferences.

When the second consignment arrived on August 22nd Coop were so pleased with the products, quality and total concept that they immediately promised new orders for 1 to 2 refrigerated truckloads per week for all of next season.

Croatian students visit Norway 16-22 May 2005

As a part of changing experiences and learning about different cultures, social and business life, students who attend graduate program in Entrepreneurship at J.J.Strossmayer University in Osijek, Croatia, visited some interesting places and participated in some unique events in Norway, from 16th to 22nd May 2005. The whole trip was organized by BIP and financially supported by Loan Fund for Business Development in Former Yugoslavia and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The first destination was charming little city Gjøvik where the students visited the Innovation Park, Incubator and Business College (BI Norwegian School of Management).

The group also visited Raufoss Industrial Park and Raufoss Secondary Technical School in order to learn about interaction between schools and businesses.

The next destination was Hamar where the students visited Hedmark Innovation Center and Incubator as well as Norrøna – a former shoe factory - now turned into a centre for new and innovative small businesses.

In Moss the group had very interesting time during visit to Th. Kristiansen, a modern mechanical industrial plant, Helly Hansen and MASVO – a special type of industrial company. Another special experience was the visit to Norske Skog’s paper mill in Halden that holds the world record in producing paper for magazines (1624 meters per minute in 8 meters width).
During their visit the students enjoyed staying at Fredrikstad’s old fortified town, and had an excellent time on Hvaler Islands. Above all they participated in very unique celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day 17th May in Lillehammer.
At the end, this visit finished by sightseeing at several interesting places in Oslo, such as the ski jumping arena and several museums…

As students said, ‘this was trip to remember!’.

BIP Service Award

On June 13th BIP presented the Service Award for 2004 to the Norwegian Ambassador in Croatia, Mr. Knut Toraasen. The award is made each year for outstanding service in respect to positive assistance and help received in connection with implementation of BIP projects. The Ambassador (right) is seen here in the presence of Professor Slavica Singer (left) from the University in Osijek and Principal Zvonimir Djuric (middle) from the Electrotechnical School in Osijek.

Best Student Enterprise in 2004

The fifth Student Enterprise Fair was held in Osijek on 10th December 2004. Present were 24 student companies with about 100 students from 7 schools. They participated in 3 main categories: ‘Best Business Idea’, ‘Most Innovative Product’ and ‘Best Presentation/Stand’. One student company from Norway also participated.

The student company with total highest score was aclaimed ‘Overall Best Student Company’ and awarded a trip to Norway as the prize.

The winning student company was “Microelectronic” from Electrotechnical School in Osijek producing airplane models with remote control. They also participated in the International Student Enterprise Trade Fair in Vestfold County in Norway on 9-10th March 2005, and presented their skills in front of 1000 students from 160 student companies participating this large international gathering.

Cooperation between Student Enterprises (SE) in Croatia and Norway

Until the outburst of war in 1991, tourism was an important industry in Croatia. After the war ended in 1995 it took time to rebuild the country. Not until recently have the tourists returned to the famous Croatian coast. The Nature Reserve Kopacki Rit in Eastern Slavonia has also got a big potential for tourism. The area lies between the rivers of Danube (Donau) and Drava and offers conditions that attract a unique variety of birds. Kopacki Rit has recently started organizing guided tours for studying birds and animals. A SE at the Economical School in Osijek, Croatia and a SE in Askim, Norway see the potential for international tourism and cooperate to offer tours for Norwegian ornithologists to Kopacki Rit. The tours will include accommodation in surrounding Croatian and Hungarian villages. Eastern Slavonia is close to the Hungarian border and there are enclaves of Hungarians living in the area.

The first step in the cooperation process was taken in September 2004 when the principal and one of the teachers of the Economical school in Osijek visited Askim upper secondary school. Further steps will be taken in December and February when teachers and students from Osijek and Askim will visit each others. Video conferences will be a very important communication tool between the SEs. The project is financed by NORAD.

Student Enterprise Fair 2004

This year's Student Enterprise Fair was held in Virovitica in May. A total of 90 students had worked together on 24 Student Enterprise projects. Awards were given out for Best Company, Best Product and a number of other meritous achievements.

Training of Business Consultants

In cooperation with the Centre for Entrepreneurship in Osijek, BIP has modified the Norwegian SND FRAM program to suit local conditions. So far 12 consultants and companies have participated and passed the examinations with good results. The program has been extended to three new locations in Croatia. The methodology and materials have been improved and updated to include Business Plan Development (BPD) and Business Strategy Implementation (BSI).

Small Business start up in the Vukovar vicinity

Together with the Centre for Peace, BIP has promoted a program for small business development in 9 municipalities with 33 villages in the area around Vukovar in eastern Slavonia. BIP business advisors in these cities assist companies with start up and obtaining financing from local funding. Norwegian companies and private individuals work simultaneously on importing the products to Norway.

Business Innovation Programs

Business Fund for Croatia

The Business Development Loan Fund has created and managed a credit line in eastern Slavonia. So far the fund has assisted more than 40 companies. It has also set up an incentive program for business ideas initiated by business school students. After graduation the students with the most promising projects will be encouraged and supported by grants to develop their ideas in to viable businesses.

SIMM receives grant

Marija, Marina and Sanda go for Web Design
The skills the girls acquired in web design and computer graphics won their company SIMM the prize as best student enterprise in Croatia in 2003. They also won a prize in a Croatian computer magazine. This has given SIMM a lot of attention in Croatian media, both on a regional and national level. Marija Misic (19), Marina Filipovic (18) and Sanda Duk (17) live in the city of Osijek in Eastern Slavonia. SIMM is now in the process of becoming a real company and has received an entrepreneurial grant from the Loan Fund. With their former teacher, Kata Vuckovic, they visited Norway in February and had a busy schedule including a visit to the Student Enterprise Fair in Halden, BIP's office, Malakoff secondary school in Moss, the Croatian Ambassador and the Norwegian Parliament. The combination of SIMM's working experience and the low cost of running a company in Croatia, make the company a cost effective alternative for potential foreign business partners. During their stay in Norway they also had meetings with the Norwegian company Websynergy to air possible cooperation. At the time SIMM is looking for other business partners.

Best student enterprise featured in ELLE
SIMM is now in the process of becoming a real company and received a good write up in the June 2004 edition of ELLE.
Business Innovation Programs

Student Enterprises in Croatia 2003

High schools in Vukovar, Osijek, Dalj and Virovitica have participated in an educational program to encourage students to start their own companies. So far more than 200 students have joined the program that is now being extended to other schools in the area and Istria. During the summer of 2003 a trade show and competition were set up between 26 student enterprises in Osijek. Participants were from Bosnia, Croatia and Norway. 40 students and 10 teachers from Serbia were also visiting the fair (these students were at this time in the start up process of their Student Enterprises in Belgrade).

Computer Training Centre in Croatia.

BIP has had its own Computer Training Centre since 2001. Students participating on the Student Enterprise program receive basic computer training here. The Computer Centre also offers general courses for adults as well as specific courses for women, business consultants from the municipality and other local small groups. So far more than 350 people have participated in the Centers' programs. The Computer Training Centre will now also start to offer ECDL (European Computer Driving License) training and certification.