Funds from Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden boost female entrepreneurship in Western Balkans
The way we dress is linked to our profession, daily mood, in some places our social status. It is therefore no surprise that the textile industry is highly competitive. So how do you stand out to attract customers? How do you ‘blow their socks off’?
Such is the mission of Bosnian entrepreneur Jasna Jovic. She wants consumers (and you) to wear her socks!
“For a long time, we had no brand recognition for our products and this was holding us back, especially when we wanted to start our export business. That’s when we realised that we needed professional advice to grow further.”
Only 14 per cent of Bosnian firms have a female top manager and that is a real hindrance to further economic growth.
That is why the EBRD set up its Women in Business Programme, designed to provide women like Ms Jovic with the finance and know-how to grow their companies.
With the support of donor funding from Luxembourg, the EBRD matched her business with a local consultant, who advised her how to rethink her marketing – with great success.
The advice has prepared her to expand. Her business now has a logo, a website and the products a new, fresher packing.
“You can now find our Gloria Line socks and tights in many major department stores and supermarkets across the country,” she said.
This is the first step towards helping Gloria Line and other women-led businesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina grow.
Small businesses are the backbone of a dynamic economy. To help them succeed, the EBRD’s Small Business Initiative provides entrepreneurs with a comprehensive package to ensure sustainable growth in the long run.
This includes not only advisory services, but also access to finance through direct loans or through the EBRD’s partner banks, as well as policy dialogue to improve the business environment.
As part of this effort, the Women in Business programme in the Western Balkans provides improved access to finance for women-led SMEs through credit lines with partner banks, technical assistance and credit enhancement, and direct support through business advisory services, mentoring, networking and other activities.
The potential for these businesses to grow is huge. With donor funding from Italy, Luxembourg and Sweden, the programme will support more than 1,000 women-led SMEs over the next three years in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.
It is this unique combination of support that will provide a much needed boost, not only to Gloria Line, but the Bosnian economy as a whole.