Return from Germany: Croatian Returnee Starts Up Business in Slavonia

By 31 January 2023
Return from Germany: Croatian Returnee Starts Up Business in Slavonia
Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

January the 31st, 2023 - While we seem to hear little else about Croatia's demographic crisis than people abandoning parts of Croatia, particularly the east, to head off elsewhere in Western Europe in search of work, the opposite is also true. One Croatian returnee has moved home from Germany, bringing an innovative business idea with him - to Slavonia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/VL/Branimir Bradaric writes, for a great many years now, Slavonia was the place from which people emigrated to other parts of Croatia or abroad and never returned. However, there are already an increasing number of cases where people have returned to their rural towns or villages and started a business of their own.

An excellent example of precisely this is the Zivkovic family, who after seven years of living and working in Germany, decided to return home to Vinkovci and start a business there. Jasmina and Petar opened their business, into which they transferred their rich experience gained from working in Germany.

In Germany, Croatian returnee Petar Zivkovic worked in precision welding at Siemens plants, and now he has started a business in Vinkovci manufacturing steel structures and industrial furniture. In starting the business, he also used 170,000 kuna in government grants, and he was given space at a preferential price in the Vinkovac Business Incubator.

"The conditions were certainly the main trigger for our return, although we'd been dreaming about it for some time. I also saw that there's a need for this kind of work and craftsmanship here. There's a lot of interest in industrial furniture, so there is no shortage of work. I took advantage of the government grants, bought the necessary equipment and combined all of that with my experience and knowledge. I'm very satisfied with my decision,'' stated Petar Zivkovic.

He is currently the only employee in his trade, but he says that given the volume of work and needs in the future, there will certainly be a need for expansion and the employment of new people. He has equipped his business premises with high quality products, so, among other things, he also owns a locksmith's 3D table, which is currently the only one of its kind in all of Croatia.

Meanwhile, his wife Jasmina opened her own business in Vinkovci, and at the end of February, the Vinkovci Business Incubator will celebrate three years of existence. With 12 offices and 5 production spaces now filled, more space is being sought, especially when it comes to production capacities. The director of the Vinkovci Technology Park, Josip Gilja, said that they started filling the incubators at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but also that regardless of the problems which followed as a result of that unprecedented public health crisis, they still managed to fill all of their units.

"Today it's completely full. So far, 24 companies have passed through our premises, and they currently employ 40 people. Over the last three years alone, about a dozen companies have "outgrown" the Incubator, they've increased the scope of their work and their number of employees and have gone their separate ways. And that's our goal," said Gilja.

Croatian returnee Petar Zivkovic's workshop was also visited by the mayor of Vinkovci, Ivan Bosancic/

"These people have returned home and started businesses here and I hope that this will become a pattern that will encourage everyone who wants to return at some point, to do so, and to bring experience with them to create more business opportunities in Vinkovci,'' said Bosancic.

There is a great need for business spaces, and since the Incubator is full, the design and completion of the Zaluzje Zone will begin at some point during the year.

"The new zone spanning 130 hectares will be aimed at entrepreneurs, we want to have bigger companies operating here. We expect that other returnees will also bring their experiences with them home to Vinkovci, and hopefully also their salaries," said Bosancic.

For more, make sure to check out our business section.