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Economic development - is it possible to grow faster, smarter, better?

Winner of the Round 2, Voice of the Region Competition

Robinson Crusoe in the Balkans, Essay by Stevan Stancic, 31 years, Celinac

Today I spent yet another day in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country with obviously no clear vision of how to break the chains of a heavy burden of unemployment and the perpetual gap between the monthly costs and minimum wage. The story of economic development is started off by endless and boring introduction about the low income and lack of jobs - it is not difficult to tell where I live.

The social moment is mine, and our common economic prison. The entrepreneurial spirit is castrated in the environment with no shortage of scepticism, and a lack of support to start-ups and small businesses. The bottom of economic depression is slowly coming into our sight and we often hear it screaming: find a job in public administration!  

In the gutter of the crisis there are those trying to build islands of economic hope. Today, I made a visit to such an island - a close friend of mine who two years ago decided not to opt for steady income in one of the many institutions in BiH as a life support but to start her own business producing handmade glass items. Her decision brought her a lot of uncertainty and fear but also joy of earning her first real money, and love for what she does. Our friendship faced the challenge of a shortage of time. 

Today’s meeting was a brief one and the conversation constantly interrupted by her client’s phone calls. I felt a bit angry over the fact that the space for friendship was narrowing but also happy to see her personal and economic development which could be a good example for us all. The brisk exchange of words and thoughts threatened to break the boxes with glass products - it has been a while since we saw each other. The friendship could be seen as a small business – fragile and beautiful, enchanting piece of glass one should carefully handle until it gets stronger.

Looking at her now and then I am getting more and more convinced that we need more courage and support to start something on our own. I am sure that it is only by ourselves alone that we can grow economically. I believe that it will be possible to see the future on the horizon again only by linking our own individual islands.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence