Help supports income generation activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina
© Freccia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Self-reliance as an economic engine

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We are currently providing emergency aid after the fire in the Lipa refugee camp. Several thousand refugees are currently living in inhumane conditions on the Bosnian-Croatian border – without electricity, without water, without a roof over their heads. Help us to provide the people with the most basic necessities.

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“Even as a small boy, I dreamed of becoming an automotive mechanic. Thanks to Help’s support, my dream has now come true, and I can support myself from my work.”
(Mehmed, 24 years old, car mechanic from Jablanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

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What is the situation like in Bosnia?

Driven by the past

Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence in 1992 and is one of the successor states of Yugoslavia. Three years of civil war between Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian soldiers followed. The war only ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement. During the fighting, the capital, Sarajevo, and many other Bosnian cities, towns and villages were destroyed, and large areas of land were mined. Around 2.2 million people were internally displaced or fled abroad.

Today Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a divided state. Power struggles between rival political camps, blocked attempts to come to terms with the war and a weak economy are just some of the reasons for the divisions that still exist in society. Unemployment is high, as one in four adults are out of work.

The challenge for the future is to open up opportunities for the younger generation in particular and to prevent emigration abroad and political and religious radicalisation.


How is Help providing support in Bosnia?

You can find more detailed information on the local Help website of Bosnia & Herzegovina. 

Using local strenghts together

Help is currently providing emergency aid for homeless refugees at the Bosnian-Croatian border. Several thousand people are living in tents, abandoned buildings or self-built huts. Together with our partner organisation SOS Bihac, we provide the affected people with clothing, sleeping bags and hygiene kits, among other things.

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Help has been supporting people in Bosnia since 1995 and is familiar with the challenges and opportunities in the country. Help actively promotes small businesses and makes use of existing structures in its work: these include many local restaurants, catering and accommodation businesses, Bosnia’s unique nature as an agricultural resource and tourist attraction, and centuries of local knowledge in trades.

Help also supports local tourism and accommodation businesses that organise many activities for the large numbers of new tourists. From hiking tours and white-water rafting to sightseeing tours to national cultural monuments, tourism provides people with a secure income and creates opportunities for a better future.

Donors and partners: AA (Department for Foreign Affairs), ADH (Aktion Deutschland Hilft), Stiftung der Deutschen LionsDOHLE Stiftung, SOS Bihac, action medeor e.V., NAK-Karitativ

A passionate carpenter

On some days he can no longer walk without crutches: Enver from Bosnia suffers from muscular dystrophy. Due to the hereditary disease, which his son also suffers from, he had to give up his job. He finds distraction from the pain in his passion - working with wood. “I've already worked in many professions, but working with wood has always been my favourite.” By selling his craftsmanship, he can continue to provide for his family.

Help has supported Enver with equipment for his workshop, which he initially used to produce souvenirs. Nowadays, he constructs beehives, which enable him to generate a lot more income. He is very happy with this development: “I was very happy about your call and that you were coming to visit me. Now you can see that I have used your help,” says Enver with a smile on our visit, three years after the sponsorship.

Pursuing his dreams

Danko is 35 years old and studied veterinary medicine. He and his family had to flee during the Bosnian War. The road from being a refugee in his own country to being a veterinarian was long, but Danko never gave up. After graduating, he opened his own practice with the support of Help. He takes care of farm animals and pets as well as street dogs, which he nurses back to health and places in a new home. Since then, Danko has even been able to hire two employees.

At Help, we are proud of Danko's success story: our support has created and secured three jobs in the long term. In the future, Danko would like to specialize in pets. He just likes them a little better.

Pictures and videos

Facts and Figures

    • The unemployment rate in Bosnia is 15.69% (2019)
    • 64% of youth between 14 and 29 are unemployed (2019)
    • The average monthly salary is € 425 and thus remains at the bottom end of the scale in a European and regional comparison (2014)
    • 51.76% of people live in rural areas (2018)

    Sources: Worldbank, FES

    Flood relief 2014:

    • Distribution of 4,300 hygiene and baby packages
    • Distribution of 33,500 Litres of drinking water
    • Renovation and reconstruction of 81 small businesses and farms as well as 12 apartment buildings

    Combating poverty and fostering integration through economic development since 2005:

    • Start-up aid for 1,825 start-ups
    • Support of 34 small business owners in the tourism sector
    • Support for 32 people with disabilities through income-generating measures
    • Creation of at least 1,842 new jobs
    • Construction of 2,500 residential houses for returnees since 1995
    Von Help finanzierter Kfz-Mechaniker in Bosnien

    Donate to people in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    IBAN: DE47 3708 0040 0240 0030 00
    BIC: DRES DE FF 370

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    Simone Walter
    Do you have questions about our work in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
    Simone Walter
    will be happy to help you:
    +49(0)228 91529-39