A business incubator backed by the European Union was officially opened on October 23 in the business zone Zvirići in Ljubuški. It will host some 20 start-ups and create a network of business services through the mentorship programme for at least 200 prospective entrepreneurs. It offers them space to meet, share knowledge, experiences and coordinate their joint activities as well as space for some smaller business operations. The opening of the business incubator, already a solid achievement in itself, is an investment which will help to attract a larger number of entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in this new facility and ultimately increase employment in West Herzegovina Canton.
The business incubator was built within the project “Home grown business” worth just over 630.000 EUR out of which the EU is providing nearly 500,000 EUR. The objective of the project is to build and improve the operational framework for the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through the development of local business infrastructure and services. It is part of the overall ongoing 5,2 million EUR grant assistance for local economic development across Bosnia and Herzegovina, funded by the European Union from the IPA 2011 programme, which aims to improve the business environment for SMEs through local partnerships.
Head of Operations Section for Economic Development, Natural Resources and Infrastructure at the EU Delegation to BiH, Martin Schieder said: “The European Union places great emphasis on development and strengthening of the SMEs, which are the backbone of EU and BiH economy. Some 40 million euros have been provided in this sector over the past 15 years. We are presently preparing 13 million euros worth of projects from the IPA II programme which will support an integrated socio-economic development. However, the continuation of the European Union’s assistance to this sector would largely depend on tangible SME improvements made at the local level to improve the business climate and to improve the institutional and operational framework for SMEs to become more competitive.”
Welcome addresses at the opening ceremony were also delivered by Nevenko Barbarić, Mayor of Ljubuški, Zdenko Ćosić, Prime Minister of the West Herzegovina Canton, Amir Zukić, FBiH Minister of Development, Entrepreneurship and Crafts and Marinko Čavara, President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At the end of the ceremony, certificates were handed over to selected mentors who form a network that will provide services to existing and future entrepreneurs in the West Herzegovina Canton.
This two and half year project is implemented by the Development Agency of West Herzegovina Canton – HERAG, in cooperation with partners: Government of West Herzegovina Canton, Municipality Ljubuški, Association of Employers of Posušje and Association of the Farmers of West Herzegovina Canton.