In Bosnia, bureaucratic regulations hinder entrepreneurs’ ability to open and run a craft business. Liberalni Forum, an Atlas Network partner in Sarajevo, recently held the first “Future on Craft Businesses in Bosnia'' conference to highlight the unnecessary red tape that craftsmen must endure.
“Craftsmen are facing unique challenges,” explained Liberalni Forum President Danijal Hadžović. “The biggest challenges for these entrepreneurs are the inability to internationally import or export their crafts, as well as strict licensing.”
The conference, which was co-sponsored by Atlas Network, brought together craft business owners, members of parliament, student activists, and government bureaucrats for a full day of enriching education and calls to action, highlighting the excessive regulations these innovators face.
The first part of the conference featured craft business owners discussing the burdens they faced when first starting their business, as well as the ones they continue to endure. The licensing laws in Bosnia require a relevant college degree as a prerequisite for starting a craft business, a regulation that comes with unintended and damaging consequences for entrepreneurs. Business owner Lejila Selimovic discussed how this policy stifles innovation and drains precious resources. “I spent over 6 months and a whole lot of money for a degree just so I can open my business,” she explained. “I didn’t learn anything new, but I had to pass the process if I wanted to open my business.”
In the second part of the conference, the Liberalni Forum presented a bill that the Federal Ministry of Development, Entrepreneurship, and Crafts (FMDEC) proposed to parliament that would reduce mandatory fees and taxes, and remove the licensing requirement of a college degree for those trying to open craft businesses. With members of parliament and parliamentary advisors in attendance, an FMDEC representative discussed the merits of the bill. The Liberalni Forum and the FMDEC believe this bill, which narrowly passed the lower house in the Bosnian parliament, would encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, and a robust economy.
The conference was part of a broader effort to sell the proposed bill to the public and to members of parliament. In the weeks prior, Liberalni Forum representatives held meetings with members of parliament, political party leaders, the Craft’s Chamber, and economists to help make the issues mainstream and build public enthusiasm. The Liberalni Forum team also produced dozens of articles and videos that give some perspective on the issue while also providing an introduction to the bill.
“Without Atlas Network’s generous support, through grants and training, we would not have been able to engage with such a wide array of stakeholders on this issue,” Hadžović continued. “We are extremely grateful and believe that our conference will be a vehicle for reform in Bosnia in the very near future.”
Liberalni Forum received a Liberating Enterprise to Advance Prosperity grant from Atlas Network in support of this project.