A web platform to support micro, small and medium enterprises from BiH in the post-pandemic era

A web platform to support micro, small and medium enterprises from BiH in the post-pandemic era

Every crisis provides an opportunity for progress, strengthening, connection, development of new technologies and adaptation to modern trends

Analysis of the Covid-19 Business Information Hub (“HelpDesk – Business Information Hub”)

The pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus hit the whole world with equal intensity, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since its unexpected appearance at the end of 2019, it has had a negative impact on healthcare, citizens, society and the economy.

It caused instability and uncertainty in the company’s work. Especially those with micro, small and medium (MSME) prefixes, without choosing the industry or sector. It affected the import and export of goods, profitability, labor mobility, simply put – on all levels of business and business flows in the world. In most companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the pandemic, the planned growth was absent, and the plans they had until then had to be extended for better times. Revenues decreased, as a result of reduced production volume. Travel has stopped. Health care came first.

The pandemic is now behind us, but its consequences are still being felt. Bh. entrepreneurs somehow overcame the most difficult period, but business challenges are still there. Companies need support to “stay afloat” and be informed about all current events. They need support through education, counseling, participation in fairs, and especially through B2B meetings and networking. The adoption of new technologies and practices would enable them to strengthen their competitiveness in the post-Covid period and offer the ability to solve the challenges posed by global trends. Only the best and most persistent understand every crisis as an opportunity because every crisis provides an opportunity for development, strengthening, connection, development of new technologies and adaptation to contemporary trends.

Such an opportunity arose through the comprehensive EU4BusinessRecovery project, which is co-financed by the European Union and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. His motto says it all, “For a strong domestic economy!”. Within this project, the Chamber of Commerce of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is implementing a project called “Help Desk – Business Information Hub”.

At the beginning of this year, the FBiH Chamber of Commerce presented this project to the general public, and the main motive was to turn difficult times for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises into a kind of opportunity. The plan was to emphasize the need to use new technologies, “smart” and online tools, which would enable the continuation of business in challenging times.

As a result of that vision, the “Covid-19 – Business Information Hub” web platform was created, available at www.bizhub.ba.

It is a digital platform that provides MSMEs with all the necessary information, whether it is about legislation, education, organizing fairs and B2B meetings, or about connecting and strengthening “networking”, with a whole group of business associations in Europe, such as various metal associations and wood, automotive industry, engineers and others.

Putting ourselves in the position of a business entity, and especially companies from the wood and metal sector (with the emphasis that other sectors in BiH are also welcome to use this digital platform), we started the analysis of this business platform.

By starting the page (which was made in bilingual, B/H/S – ENG format), we will notice that the platform consists of several modules: e-regulation, e-consultation, e-finance, e-learning and e-networking.

The possibility of joining the viber community, whose goal is to inform businessmen about the most up-to-date information, was particularly highlighted. For example, within that community it is possible to obtain information about border crossing conditions and public invitations, which would prevent misinformation and provide accurate and timely information. Membership is free and information is daily. These news can also be found on the homepage of the Platform, making them available to all interested persons and companies.

What is very important is that information about public calls can be found on the platform, whether it is active (marked in green) or expired positions (red), which shortens the search time for targeted information. A summary of the most up-to-date monthly information can also be obtained by email, after a simple registration (subscribe).

Let’s go back to the mentioned modules. In the category of e-regulation, current information on events and phenomena in the economy, caused by the pandemic and the global economic crisis, is gathered in one place. Special attention was given to the conditions of crossing borders, which differ from country to country, which is of exceptional importance for businessmen. The module also follows current legal regulations.

The e-counseling module provides companies from the wood and metal industry with free analysis, advisory and legal services. The “I need advice” option leads directly to the contact form, with a field for the question to be asked.

Current information on public calls from domestic and international donors, government institutions and banks is available through the e-finance module.

It is evident that not only the aforementioned wood and metal sectors are covered by public calls, but others are also represented and are very easily accessible (EF-AUTOMOTIVE, EF-WOOD SECTOR, EF-METAL SECTOR, EF-AGRICULTURE, EF-TEXTILES, EF-TOURISM , etc.).

Through the e-learning and networking module, companies have the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills on various topics necessary for business in the post-pandemic period, as well as the opportunity to hold online B2B meetings and network with potential partners and suppliers. This module is perhaps the most interesting for our companies. Networking and B2B meetings make it easier to make new business connections and cooperation, both within the borders of BiH and outside them.

In addition, there are various interesting, completely free webinars, as one of the extremely valuable items of the platform. A simple registration process gives access to numerous interesting lectures, and from July to October several interesting and useful webinars were held with excellent lecturers. The topics were carefully chosen based on the needs of the wider business community, and the service providers are renowned BiH. companies.


Advantages and benefits for project users, disadvantages and recommendations

In addition to the mentioned advantages of the platform created within the project, available educations, review of the current epidemiological situation in FBiH, free advisory and legal services for companies on business in the post-pandemic period, Viber community and B2B (business-to-business) meetings, four companies are within this project was able to realize the departure of the international fair IZB2022, which was held from October 11 to 13 this year in Wolfsburg, Germany. Due to the pandemic, this fair was last held in 2018.

As a small shortcoming of the platform, we noticed the absence of a search option (search bar) on the home page, which would make it much faster for users to search and use the site, but given that it is a technically easy addition, we believe that this will also be removed soon.

The fact is that the project could have been better presented in the media, which could also be improved through different formats, and one of the disadvantages is the (current) impossibility of B2B meetings with companies that are not from the metal and wood sector.

The platform could also be improved in such a way that at least once a month a local company is presented on it, so that other users get to know their work, see their experiences in business during this challenging period, and possibly get in touch with them.

The so-called “success stories”, how a company improved production, bought new machines, developed software, etc.

For one of the educations, a useful topic would be “Starting a business”, for all those who have not had the courage until now, especially because of the coronavirus.

As a final recommendation, we would suggest the option of sharing news and updates via a link on social networks.

Finally, the general conclusion is that it is a very good and useful tool for all entrepreneurs and those who are just planning to become one. Disadvantages exist, but they are easily rectified and the general impression is that there are more advantages and benefits for users, and the thesis that every crisis is a new opportunity was confirmed precisely through our analysis.


The EU4BusinessRecovery project supports micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue doing business and preserve jobs, and will especially support female entrepreneurs, young people and other vulnerable groups in establishing their own businesses and in overcoming the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, by creating a more resilient business environment . The total value of the project is 13.7 million euros, and it is jointly financed by the European Union (13 million euros) and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany (0.7 million euros). EU4BusinessRecovery is jointly implemented by GIZ, ILO and UNDP, from 2021 to 2023. For more information, visit www.eu4business.ba.

For more information about the “Help Desk” project, please contact:


Armin Hodžić, Team Leader

email: a.hodzic@kfbih.com

phone: 033 566 308


Anela Karahasan, Project Manager

email: a.karahasan@kfbih.com

phone: 033 566 333