By: Bojana Jankovic
Belgrade, Nov 11. 2009 (Serbia Today) - After ten years cooperation with the German nongovernmental organization (NGO) ‘HELP’, representatives from municipalities across Serbia have signed memorandums of cooperation with the NGO in preparation for a new program which HELP will adminster to assist in small business development.
Representatives from 17 cities will sign the memorandum including; Bujanovac, Presevo, Bosilegrad, Surdulica, Vranje from Southern Serbia, Aleksinac, Gadzin Han, Leskovac, Nish, Pirot from Southeast Serbia, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, and Novi Pazar from Central Serbia, Sremska Mitrovica from Northwestern Serbia, and Uzice from Western Serbia Trgoviste are project designed to develop small entrepreneurship.
President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (CCS), Milos Bugarin, stated the importance of formalizing the cooperation with CCS, as a formal way to signal the importance of further promoting economic relations between Serbia and Germany. He said that Germany is one of the largest donors to Serbia by already having donated 700 million euros aid for economic cooperation and development since the year 2000.
“In the last two years support from Germany was primarily intended for development of energy, utilities and financial sectors. Germany has become the most important bilateral donor for Serbia. Serbia and Germany have traditionally good relations which are manifested through a variety of areas of cooperation such as trade, investment, infrastructure support, economic reforms, and support for starting small businesses, said Bugarin.
He went on to point out the growing importance of the Serbian to Germany. “Trade between Serbia and Germany, since the beginning of January until the end of September, this year, amounted to 2.15 billion dollars, while in 2008 it reached a record value of 3.8 billion dollars,” said Bugarin.
The German Ambassador to Serbia, Wolfram Mas, announed that the German government will now fund the current small business development initiative being administered by HELP to the tune of four million euros.
“The activities of HELP are concentrated primarily on the implementation of projects in regions such as Southern Serbia, where unemployment and poverty are high and where living conditions are difficult. This organization provides assistance to sustainable systems of self-employment and small businesses through the donation of equipment, materials and training to entrepreneurs for business planning,” said Ambassador Mas.
Regional representative of HELP for Southeastern Europe, Timo Stegelman, recalled that during the 10 years he has working in Serbia, HELP successfully oversaw more than 50 projects costing approximately 18 million dollars and built more than 250 residential facilities for displaced and vulnerable population.