I admit in the beginning it was difficult and challenging to start a business. I was afraid, I was uncertain. My paid traineeship at Most Jablanica Women’s Association was ending, and COVID-19 was hitting us.
I have a degree in agricultural engineering. But my contract was expiring. I was worried for my future, just like everyone else, because it was a very uncertain time. I had two options left; to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina to start a new life and find a job abroad or to start my own business.
Then I heard about an International Labour Organization (ILO) project to support start-ups. I was worried about how I would handle the application procedure for such a large project, which was called EU4Business and was financed by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany. But I knew this was the perfect opportunity to turn my disadvantages into advantages.
Having my ideas heard for the first time and supported and guided by ILO experts was not to be missed, so I took the chance and applied. I was new to the world of entrepreneurship, and it took a lot of work, patience and research to get to where we are now.
Jablanica, my hometown, is an historic location in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The Battle on the Neretva took place here during the Second World War. The place attracts visitors from within and outside the country.
By collaborating with tourism agencies, I am proud to promote my region, especially by producing authentic products which link tradition and my town. Naturally, it is more difficult to succeed in a small community, but when you are recognized in your small town, then the rest is easier.
Due to the support I was granted, and awareness of the potential and rich local resources in agriculture, tourism, and services, I decided to attend entrepreneurship Start your Business training, also held by the ILO.
Because the pandemic stopped everything, people couldn't buy products coming from other parts of the world. Shelves were empty. We realized that our products are considered to have medicinal value in helping to boost people's immune systems. So we took advantage of the moment when people wanted to benefit from domestic products and services to create a local and sustainable business.
We produce vegetable juices, fruit syrups, jams, marmalades, sweets and a whole range of traditional products. We stand out because we work according to original traditional recipes. Our most popular product is an apple jam without any additional sugar. It is produced by boiling only pure apple juice, as our ancestors did.
Not only do I create agricultural products, but the company also offers all sort of local services, catering, production of souvenirs, textiles and cleaning services.
At Most Jablanica we strive to be socially responsible. We hire mostly women from rural areas and marginalized groups, so they’ll be able to increase their purchasing power and therefore help their families and relatives.
As well as employing four women in the company, we hire and recommend our women, who are members of Most Jablanica Women’s Association, for different activities such as cleaning and maintenance services.
Our company provides benefits to many local women as well as the community itself. All the fruits and vegetables that we use come from local organic suppliers.
I believe I am an example of female entrepreneurship and I try to fight for women's equality and show that female entrepreneurs can succeed.
Usually most of the businesses are led by men, in industry, public services and elsewhere. We are breaking stereotypes. Today more and more women are taking the lead role and running successful businesses.
Despite the challenges, my business has actually grown during the pandemic and is managing to stand up to larger multi-national companies.
By producing healthy, local food, I can export our products throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina with online orders. It is a “Made in B&H” success.
The future may be uncertain, but this is what I would like to do, be recognized as an all-woman company.
During the process I have changed. I have seen that I am capable of running a successful business and helping fellow women in the community.
I would recommend to future entrepreneurs, above all to women entrepreneurs, to always take what is offered at a given moment. We should not be afraid, and we should take risks. We should do what we love, because today there aren't many women doing the jobs they love.