News archive - [Event Review] - Workshop on Diaspora and Rural Development: Possible Solutions for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

The Centre for Economic Development and Research (CEDAR) organised a workshop entitled, "Diaspora and Rural Development: Possible Solutions for BiH," held on 5 June 2013, at the International University of Sarajevo (IUS).

The main objectives of the workshop focused on the following points:

  • Presenting the diaspora and rural entrepreneur research results completed by researchers from CEDAR within the RRPP-funded projectLinking Diaspora and Rural Entrepreneurs in Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina;
  • Presenting the best practices from around the globe for engaging the BiH diaspora within the economic development of their countries of origin;
  • Discussing possible solutions and implementations linking BiH diaspora and rural entrepreneurs.

The workshop was chaired by Prof Dr Hasan Korkut, Dean of the IUS. Opening speeches were given by Joseph Guntern, Director of SDC in BiH, Andjela Lalovic, RRPP Program Coordinator for BiH, and Dr Josef Pöschl, Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw). 

Mr Jospeh Guntern gave a speech highlighting the importance of research in economic development and the support granted to these efforts by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in BiH thus far. The SDC’s support began in 1991, primarily via emergency assistance and humanitarian aid, whereas its contemporary mission is more focused on developmental projects. Some of the current SDC-funded projects in BiH were also presented, including those supported by the RRPP. 

Ms Andelja Lalovic, RRPP Program Coordinator for BiH, then presented theRRPP’s progress and future plans for improving research capacities in BiH and the region. 

Following Ms Lalovic’s talk, an introductory presentation provided by Dr Josef Pöschl described the key challenges facing economic development in BiH. Dr Pöschl emphasised the possible role of investments by diaspora members in rural developments that can be used to resolve some key economic challenges, such as high unemployment rates, increasing poverty and inequality, and rural-urban migration.

Ms Selma Delalic, a researcher of the RRPP funded research projectLinking Diaspora and Rural Entrepreneurs in Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina then presented the many factors determining success rates of rural entrepreneurship. The research identified key obstacles that rural entrepreneurs are facing while running their businesses. These problems may be summarised in a number of ways relating to market access, access to capital and the availability of knowledge and skills, especially those related to management and marketing. 

Mr Nermin Oruc, Project Leader, then presented the analysis' results for diaspora potentials, wherein capital investment and specific knowledge/skill sets were identified, representing key points to the diaspora’s potential that have yet to be sufficiently exploited. 

Results of this study also show that the key factors disallow for the use of adequate diaspora member potentials for economic development in BiH. These factors consist of the inadequate availability of information on investment opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the uncertainty of investments, the lack of institutional cooperation with potential investors and currently underdeveloped channels for the transfer of knowledge through virtual return, which is the preferred option for interviewees from diaspora.

The best practices for engaging diaspora in the economic development of other countries were presented in the third and final part of the workshop. Special focus was placed on those measures linking the diaspora and rural entrepreneurs to the reduction of important obstacles identified in the effort to improve the performance of rural enterprises, defining potential measures as those that the diaspora is willing to engage. This primarily refers to attracting investments and the transfer of knowledge. 

Based on a discussion between all participants, a number of measures were proposed to be sent to all institutions dealing with economic development in BiH:

  • Increase activity and participation of institutions such as the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) and Bosnia and Herzegovina Export Promotion Agency (BHEPA), targeting the BiH diaspora. Included in this recommendation is the creation of a website listing investment projects that include diaspora investment (For example, projects in Ethiopia);
  • Establish a local investment conference for the diaspora where investment projects may be presented and organised by municipalities during holidays when diaspora members visit their home locations (For example: Australia);
  • Create more public-private partnerships, especially in rural infrastructure projects (For example: El Salvador);
  • Establish a counselling centre for the transfer of businesses from other countries to BiH (For example: Israel);
  • Support the establishment and development of a network of businessmen from the diaspora (For example: Scotland), and other associations of experts in specific occupations;
  • Develop ways in which the BiH diaspora can contribute to development without physical return, primarily through the transfer of knowledge and engagement in research activities receiving virtual return.

In addition to these measures, it was concluded that local projects must gain priority and include all institutions handling economic development activities in the BiH diaspora.

Implementation of the proposals discussed and agreed upon at the workshop will be continued through new projects carried out by CEDAR, coupled with advocacy and cooperation activities enacted by governmental institutions in BiH.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Geographical focus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • General

Entry created by Desiree Pecarz on July 3, 2013
Modified on July 3, 2013