For Avdo Delibašić, it might not have seemed that he was travelling on a path to a successful business future back in 1996 in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Before the war, he had worked for a company specialised in furniture foam production. When the war ended, he saw an opportunity to translate that experience into a private business of his own. He established production in a derelict cultural centre, with one machine for cutting, another for grinding and three employees.
As post-war reconstruction progressed, demand for furniture grew. Fast forward ten years and Mr Delibasic had constructed a proper factory, which proved to be a visionary step: his company Delibašić Poliuretani had turned into one of the leading foam mattress producers in the country.
The business was handed from one generation to another and what Mr Delibašić started, his daughter Beadisa Delibašić continued. Today, she is the company’s General Manager, overseeing the operations of a business employing more than 110 people.
Advice for success
“80 per cent of our goods are sold in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest is exported to Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Austria” explained Ms Delibašić. “However, the biggest challenge for us was to position our brand in the Bosnian market as a high quality line, because Bosnian people didn’t have a lot of trust in local furniture brands.”
Their efforts were recognised by the EBRD. As part of our Advice for Small Business programme, our team in Sarajevo helped the company improve in many areas, including quality management, organisational structure, planning, IT, web development and e-commerce.
The advisory programme connects small businesses to local consultants and international advisers who help them transform and improve their competitiveness. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is supported by the European Union and Sweden and has helped over 1,000 businesses to date.
The EBRD also supported the mattress producer with a €125,000 loan issued by a partner bank Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, part of a credit line, supported incentive grants from the EU. They used the loan to improve product quality and safety, increase production capacity, improve environmental protection (through increased energy efficiency and decreased waste generation in the production process) and improve occupational health and safety.
“In Bosnia and Herzegovina small businesses are, as in the rest of the region, drivers of local economies. We support businesses from many industries, such as food and beverages, wholesale and retail distribution, and we are happy that more than 73 per cent of our projects are outside major cities,” said Ian Brown, head of the EBRD’s office in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We introduced high quality control standards and, together with the excellent team that we have, we managed to establish ourselves as a strong local brand which can compete with international producers,” added Ms Delibašić.
The result of these investments into the factory and better know-how are now visible across the country. Delibašić Poliuretani supplies mattresses to many Bosnian homes and also to many hotel chains in Sarajevo and elsewhere.
“We continuously work on product improvement, develop and invest in production capacities, and educate our sales representatives. This is how we compete with other producers,” said Ms Delibašić.