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Volume 6, No. 3WINTER 2003

IOCC aiding in the journey to
self-sufficiency in former Yugoslavia

Entrepreneurs have ‘a clear vision’ for the future

Bosko, with two of his 10 employees, is proud of his new clothing company, made possible through a micro-credit loan from IOCC and its partner. Photo: IOCC-Banja Luka

Since 1997, IOCC and its partner have issued micro-credit loans of up to $1,000 to 455 people willing to create, restart or develop businesses in key municipalities of Republika Srpska [the Bosnian Serb entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina]. In this way, IOCC seeks to contribute to long-term economic stability in post-war Bosnia. Here are the stories of two entrepreneurs.

Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina (IOCC) — “I know what it’s like to start over again,” Bosko said as he began telling his story. “I once worked as an economist at a prosperous textile factory on the Una River in northern Bosnia. Most of our customers were in the Federation [the Muslim-Croat part of Bosnia]. When the war broke out in 1992, communications were almost instantly disrupted, and my factory’s business suffered as a result. It resumed some activity after the war, but it never fully recovered.

“I was 43 years old at the time. I had to accept the fact that I would never go back to my former job. I started thinking about starting my own textile business. Previously, I had the opportunity to work with some clients abroad. What’s more, my father was a renowned shirt maker prior to his retirement 20 years ago. His workplace was still there and in good shape.

“I first tried to figure out how much money I could raise from family and friends. Then, about a year and a half ago, I decided to turn my idea into a reality. I applied for a loan with IOCC. The purpose of the loan was to purchase an embroidering machine.

“Soon thereafter, I hired an additional employee, paid back the loan and was able to get a contract making clothes for an Italian textile company. Today, I have a secure position, and my business provides jobs for 10 people.”

Branislav’s daughter cuts glass in his workshop. Branislav is one of many small business owners now thriving in post-war Bosnia because of an IOCC micro-credit loan. Photo: IOCC-Banja Luka

Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina — “For 34 years I worked as a glass cutter and glazier for a state-owned factory in Banja Luka. I sold and installed window panes in houses all over Bosnia,” said Branislav.

“Once the war in Bosnia started, the factory I was working for began to go under. Even privatization after the war didn’t prevent it from going out of business. The factory declared bankruptcy in 2001 and its assets were liquidated about a year ago.

“Even though I was left without a job, I had a lot of skills, in addition to my experience, knowledge of the market and some personal savings. I decided to go into business for myself in my hometown of Novi Grad.

“At first, it was really hard. I was earning only $147 a month. My daughter came on to help me with record keeping and administrative work. She even helped me in the workshop.

“Then I decided to apply for a loan from IOCC. With my loan, I increased and diversified my stock of thick glass, stained glass and ornamental glass, and purchased a glass-processing machine. I started noticing a difference in my business right away, and my sales increased. Now I’m making $406 a month, and I’m providing a job for my daughter.

“I feel as if I have a clear vision for the future of my business. The next step is for me to own my workplace because currently I am renting.”

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