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Supporting Business, Creating Opportunities The World Bank’s Employment Support Project is helping Bosnia & Herzegovina address constraints to economic activity triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This story is also available in Bosnian.

Creating jobs and ensuring the existence of a skilled labor force to fill them are crucial components of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s development agenda as it continues to travel a path toward growth and prosperity.

The COVID-19 pandemic is now constraining economic activity and threatening to reverse economic and social progress the country has made in recent years, increasing the importance of stimulating private sector development and reducing unemployment.

The Employment Support Project, active in the country since 2017, is addressing these challenges by increasing formal private sector employment among targeted groups of registered job seekers. The program is currently financing a menu of Active Labor Market Programs (ALMPs), supporting job intermediation, and modernizing monitoring and evaluation practices of employment service agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Here are some of their stories

Malisic MP

Katica Sivric,CEO of Malisic MP, an import/export company that employs 110 people in Citluk, Bosnia and Herzegovina:

With the employment support program, supported by the Federal Employment Agency, we have created about 20 new jobs. This project has enabled us to create new jobs and retain existing ones – which also helps stop the trend of young people leaving and unemployment rising.
As the COVID-19 pandemic set in, which caused a severe blow to the economy and caused a recession, our company managed to preserve all our jobs, keep all our workers and keep salaries at pre-pandemic levels. The looming uncertainty presents us with many challenges, which we hope we will overcome successfully and continue with new, similar employment and expansion projects.

Mama Burgers

Elma Dzananovic, head of the ‘Mama Burgers’ fast food restaurant, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Mama Burgers started two years ago. With help from the employment support program, we hired five employees. Later, this gave us a boost and we now have 10 employees.
In these challenging times, we find that the COVID-19 pandemic is discouraging new investments and expansion of companies involved in food service. On the other hand, we are proud that we have survived all these months. Quality always finds a way.

Bogda

Alisa Mujkanovic, founder of the Bogda company, a handicrafts producer from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina:

After I decided to turn my sewing hobby into a job through a self-employment project at the Federal Employment Agency, I wanted to pass that model on. Through cooperation with women from the local association, I was able to involve them in different stages of production and, thus, increase efficiency. Today, you can find our handicrafts available on the local market. Under the brand Bogda we make toys, rugs, furniture and various accessories.
Economic losses have been massive. There is a shortage of tourists and the purchasing power of people has weakened. But that did not stop me from further developing my business. I am in the workshop every day working on prototypes for new products, creating stock for when times improve. We are happy to continue with our work.

Klas

Lamija Alajbegovic, Head of Human Resources at Klas, one of the leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s food industry.

Our company has taken part in the Employment Support Project since 2017. We have successfully completed training programs for 33 participants from various professional fields – 18 of whom are still employed. We can assess the cooperation and support we have received from the program as extremely satisfactory.
During the pandemic, our company has been affected by the reduction of purchasing power among the population - resulting in reduced volumes of sales and production. At the beginning of the pandemic, when there was a trend of ‘panic shopping,’ our employees showed unity, cooperation, and solidarity. I'm proud of my colleagues who unreservedly invested additional commitments for the benefit of both the company and our customers.
The challenge that remains for us is to continue getting our products into domestic and foreign markets and retain our workforce.

Bodaxco

Njegoslav Zagorac,Director of the Bodaxco company in Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Last year, due to the needs of the company, and partly thanks to the World Bank project, we hired 20 workers. Right now, again thanks to the project, we are preparing contracts for an additional five employees, so we are very satisfied. The most important thing for us is to point out that in our 23 years of existence, the number of employees has never decreased so the company currently employs 117 workers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are proud that all our employees have remained healthy to this day and we sincerely hope that it will remain so. In general, the biggest challenge is the reduced volume of business, so part of our workforce is less engaged. Regardless, net salaries and contributions continue to be paid for all of our employees. We must keep going!