Setting up and supporting micro and small enterprises
Providing for their family from their own means, putting their children well-fed to bed, and spending the days happily in good health – these are probably the most important things in life for parents. But for many families in South East Europe, this still remains a vision of the future even today. The path to their dream job lies far away for the majority of young people. What matters most to them is simply getting one of the few jobs so that they can contribute something to the family’s income.
The need for stability, security and equal opportunities is resulting in a growing desire to join the EU among the population. But it should not be forgotten that poverty and a lack of prospects are fuelling growing nationalist tendencies. This makes it all the more important to provide stability and create opportunities for people to live self-determined lives.
Fragile economy and poverty
The economies of the six Western Balkan countries may have grown by approximately 3.2 per cent per year on average between 2001 and 2016, and they even achieved 3.3 per cent economic growth in 2019, but poverty remains. Every setback, whether it is the coronavirus pandemic, floods or illness in the family, can quickly cause poverty to grow. Some branches of the economy are heavily dependent on each other, such as industry and tourism; remittances from abroad account for around nine per cent of the gross domestic product. For some families, this money is their sole source of income.
Youth unemployment, which lies at around 30 to 50 per cent depending on the country, is especially worrying and has serious effects on the regions’ development. Well-educated people often emigrate, which means yet more losses for society and the economy.
Starting small enterprises as a driver for the economy
Since 2001, Help has focused its activities in the Western Balkan states on promoting socio-economic development. We support low-income families and young people by helping them to set up and develop future-oriented micro and small enterprises. True to its principle of assisting people towards self-reliance, Help provides support with the necessary hardware, such as machines and materials, but also with management training and professional development.
More than 13,000 small enterprises have been set up or developed in this way over the past 19 years. These enterprises create an average of 1.03 additional jobs within five to ten years. The agricultural sector and crafts play a key role here. There are also growing numbers of business ideas for the service and tourism sector and the IT industry.
By complementing economic projects led by the municipalities, the socio-economic situation within the project regions is further strengthened. To promote tourism, signposting has been erected for hiking trails, and refuge huts built for walkers. Combined with our close collaboration with municipalities, ministries and our target group, the different measures taken by Help come together to create stable earning capacities and strengthen the regional and national economies in the long term.
“Help’s clients help others through the products of their labour, which is the essence of Help’s work. We can achieve much on our own, but much more together.”
Nudžejma Čikić, Finance Officer Bosnia and Herzegovina
What we have achieved:
- Over 13,000 micro and small enterprises have been set up or developed
- Over 13,000 small entrepreneurs have successfully completed business training courses
- More than 6,000 people have benefited from vocational training measures
(Investment to date: €34 million)
Biljana, aged 52 from Pirot, was unemployed for nine years before she received support from Help in 2018. Many of her attempts to find work were unsuccessful. Although two of her three children have already left home and started their own families, they are still dependent on their parents’ support. Help made it possible for Biljana to start her own bakery by providing the necessary fixtures and management training. She had already completed her training as a pastry chef independently. Her speciality is “slanje tajne”, which literally means “salty secrets”. It refers to salty cakes, biscuits, muffins and other bakery products that are actually sweet. The small business is already giving the family an improved level of financial security. All the members of the family support it.
Help us to promote business start-ups in South East Europe and thus stabilize the economy in the long term.
IBAN: DE47 3708 0040 0240 0030 00
BIC: DRES DE FF 370