Monday, 25 March 2019

Croats Experience Diversity in Workplace

ZAGREB, March 25, 2019 - Finns and Croats are the most surrounded by diversity in workplace, and Croats most often work with the elderly and mothers of small children, a little less with foreigners and minority and ethnic groups, and the least with disabled persons and LGBT persons, the MojPosao job-seeking website says.

Four in ten employees in Europe do not experience diversity in the workplace, according to an international study on diversity conducted by Paylab in nine European countries in 2018.

The goal of the study was to determine the extent to which employees in work teams come into contact with employees who are often at a disadvantage on the job market, such as foreigners, members of minority and ethnic groups, persons with physical disabilities, mothers of small children, employees over the age of 55, and persons with a different sexual orientation/identity.

The study shows the lowest level of workplace diversity is in Hungary, where up to 49% of employees reported no contact with the groups monitored in the survey, followed by Slovenia (44%), Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria (about 40%) and Finland (35%).

Workers in Croatia have the most experience with diversity as only 29% of respondents have never encountered the groups monitored.

The study shows that more than 50% of respondents in Croatia have worked with people over 55 and 49% with mothers of children under 10. One in four respondents has worked with foreigners and members of minority and ethnic groups, 17% with persons with physical disabilities, and 15% with LGBT persons.

Asked if they are bothered by the presence of the groups monitored in their workplace, a majority of respondents said they were not, with Croats most open to working with disabled persons (29%).

Croats show the highest intolerance towards the LGBT community, with 18% saying they would be glad to interact with them in the workplace, while 2% said they would be very upset. About 1% would be upset at working with the groups monitored. Twenty-nine percent of Croats accept foreign co-workers.

Finns are the most open to working with LGBT persons, with 28% saying they would be glad to work with them, while 31% accept foreigner co-workers.

More business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Businesses Prefer Cash But Expect Mobile Payments to Prevail

ZAGREB, March 24, 2019 - More than 60% of Croatian businesses prefer cash payments, yet 77% expect mobile payments to prevail over the next ten years, according to a survey conducted by the British company LM Research for the Norwegian company Auka.

The findings were presented at the residence of the Norwegian Ambassador to Croatia, Astrid Versto.

LM Research interviewed 28,000 small and large businesses as well as restaurant and hotel companies throughout the European Union.

Restaurants and cafes in Croatia show the biggest interest in the introduction of mobile payments, while small shop owners and newsagents resist it the most, Auka founder and director Daniel Doederlein said.

About 70% of businesses in Croatia accept credit cards, whereas the European average is 78%, and a little over one-third in Croatia say they accept contactless payments by mobile phone such as Google Pay, which is a little over the European average of 32%, he added.

Among the businesses in Croatia that do not accept mobile payments, 45% say they will consider it in the next 12 months, while 37% are not sure they will do it.

Half the respondents in Croatia say they encounter no problems in accepting and handling cash, which remains the preferred payment method throughout the EU, Doederlein said.

However, 77% of Croatian businesses believe mobile payments will prevail over the next ten years, including contactless payments by mobile phone and other methods. At EU level, the same answer was given by 72% of the companies surveyed, which shows the trend is widely recognised, he added.

Sixty-two percent of the respondents in Croatia say the government's political decisions impact the payment method their company accepts, which is important as the success of mobile payments in Croatia depends also on the government's preparedness for technological change, Doederlein said.

More Business news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

New Law to Facilitate Establishment of Companies in Croatia

ZAGREB, March 21, 2019 - Members of parliament from both the parliamentary majority and the opposition on Friday supported, in a joint debate on the Companies Bill and the Court Register Bill, the proposed amendments that aim to facilitate the establishment of companies.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said that the purpose of the amendments was to make the establishment and registration of companies, limited liability companies and simple limited liability companies faster and cut costs related to their establishment.

Among other things the bills propose on-line registration of limited liability and simple limited liability companies and introduce electronic communication with the court register.

The amendments also facilitate exit from the market by defining procedures for a simpler, faster and cheaper liquidation of a company, said Bošnjaković.

Welcoming the proposed cost-cutting and easier liquidation, Social Democrat MP Orsat Miljenić said that any step towards moving away from paper-based procedures was welcome.

Nikola Grmoja of the MOST party said he welcomed any change towards greater competitiveness of the national economy but added that more radical measures should have been proposed to eliminate administrative barriers.

Žarko Tušek of the ruling HDZ party said that the proposed amendments would significantly facilitate the establishment of companies with the aim of making the economy more competitive and more open to investments.

More news on doing business in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Investment Issues: Croats Do Not Want to Work, Complain All the Time

The InvestCro conference on investment issues in Croatia was held in Zagreb, attended by representatives of large companies, governments and local administration units, reports Večernji List on March 21, 2019.

“We expect big investments, but really important are those investors who hire two or three people. Bjelovar had investments worth 100 million euro last year, mostly from small businesses. We want to send a message to investors that their kuna is worth more in our town than elsewhere. We do not invest money in buying voters, but in development, we now have 750 more employees in the town than before, and the budget revenues are growing,” said Dario Hrebak, the mayor of Bjelovar.

"Bjelovar quickly reached the top ten towns by investments. Construction permits are issued within 15 days. We want to achieve standardisation, so investors are no longer dependent on the goodwill of municipal employees. The only chance is to digitise all the processes in the state administration system, which demands the political will. While the government is dealing with rescuing Uljanik, we have to stop projects because we do not have enough money. By the way, Bjelovar is the first town in Croatia by the number of cafes. We have to create the ideal of work since about 40 per cent of Croats do not want to work at all,” said Hrebak.

Zdenko Lucić, state secretary at the Ministry of the Economy, said that Croatia should be branded as a desirable destination for investments, just as it has managed to become branded as a tourist country. “We have over 500 self-government units. Digitisation will help us have a standardised service level. Quick results will be visible with the introduction of an online establishment of businesses. We are sometimes shy to say that our investment promotion law is the best in Europe," Lucić said.

Viktor Pavlinić, the CEO of Tele2, said digitalisation was an opportunity, but a change in the pattern of behaviour was needed. He pointed out that the government in 2014 tripled the charges for telecom operators. “That was no longer a stimulating investment environment. This government has resolved this problem and returned the levies to the previous levels, which are still higher than in other countries. Now, Tele2 is employing 40 per cent more people, and the market competition is better. Encouraged by this optimism, the owner has decided to double the amount of investment. Achieving economic growth of five per cent is possible. Although we have a good staff in the ICT sector, the labour costs have become a serious problem. There is a need to revise the tax rate, to lower income tax if we want our workers to stay here,” said Pavlinć.

Regional Director of Dogus Holding, Burak Baykan, said that the experiences of the hotel company in Zadar and Šibenik are positive and must be transferred to new investors as well. “I would not say bureaucracy here is worse than in other countries. We have a hard time finding the right employees, we do not have enough people for greenfield investments, and construction costs have grown tremendously, as in Western countries, but with lower revenues here. The return on investment is meagre, we need to think about direct incentives,” said Baykan.

Zdenko Adrović, director of the Croatian Bank Association, complained about high fees for bankers, whose regulatory cost is three times higher than in Germany, and there is a problem with parafiscal charges as well, with the Ministry of Tourism attempting to increase the amount of tourist board fees.

Mladen Fogec, president of the Association of Foreign Investors in Croatia, said that foreigners are worried because Croats just complain. “We are too burdened with negativity, although there are many good examples. Why are investments in Međimurje or Istria possible but not in the south? Local units should act in favour of investors, both Croatian and foreign. Our capacity to change is currently not strong enough. Croatia has a great chance, but we need political courage," Fogec said.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Ana Blašković).

More news about investment in Croatia can be found here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Business Leaders Changing Digital Croatia

At the very end of the Digital Takeover Conference, the Business Leaders awards were present to companies and startups which the 24sata daily has recognised as leaders in digital transformation. These are companies that define the digital market and determine how it will look tomorrow, reports on March 13, 2019.

The award for the most substantial investment in the development of the gigabit network was given to Croatian Telecom, represented by Boris Drilo, a member of the board of directors and head of IT. “With this modernisation drive, we have upgraded 800 of the 2000 base stations, and we already offer the 5G functionality. If you have the latest generation of mobile phones, you can surf twice as fast as with our closest rivals in Croatia," Drilo said. This is a project worth more than one billion kuna, which will prepare the infrastructure for the introduction of 5G throughout Croatia by the end of 2019. The project is also the most significant investment in the development of the gigabit network in Croatia.

Head of corporate communications of the Croatian Post, Jo Kempen, has received the award presented to the Croatian Post for its contribution to employee development as the core of digital transformation. After a series of technological investments last year, the Post has continued to succeed this year, turning its focus actively towards the further development of its employees. The Croatian Post has launched the Academy, has held a series of training sessions to enable workers to operate new machines, and it has provided workers with many additional benefits, such as a closed voluntary pension fund. All postmen have also completed training for the Digital Postman project and are therefore fully ready to begin using new technologies. “In addition to investing in processes and progress, we are investing in people. I am glad our postmen will be even better in the future,” Kempen said.

The Business Leaders award for digital services focused on users was presented to Zagrebačka Banka, represented by Andrea Tiberi, customer experience manager, Iva Barbarić, marketing director, and Estera Ivanišević, card business director. Zaba said that the opinions of professionals and consumers are critical to them since everybody wants to shop in a fast, easy and safe way, which can be done by using a digital card in their m-wallet. The m-wallet is a modern and safe m-zaba functionality (no additional app, no extra download, no extra charges) that allows cell phone payments at contactless POS devices that accept Mastercard and Maestro cards. The service can be used to pay without the physical use of a card and without accessing the m-zaba app. All you have to do is unlock your cell phone display and put it on a POS device.

The award for innovators in the field of virtual reality was presented to the Orqa FPV startup from Osijek, represented by CEO Srđan Kovačević. “We are honoured to be in such a company as a small startup, and I hope we will fulfil the expectations,” Kovačević said. Orqa was also the winner of the Idea Knockout competition and won a place at this year's CES in Las Vegas. Orqa FPV.One are goggles for driving racing drones and other professional (industrial and civil) aircraft and remote-controlled vehicles. The FPV in the name stands for the first-person view, providing a particularly exciting experience to anyone who uses them. Osijek is thus on the verge of becoming the centre of production of googles for one of the most exciting sports of the future, and if everything goes as it should, this year drone pilots all over the world will see their experience improved. The only question is how the competition will react. At the CES fair in Las Vegas, the company has launched global sales of the googles.

The award for a socially responsible project was given to Locastic and OmoLab for the development of the OmoReader app. This is the first Croatian mobile app that facilitates, improves and encourages reading. The app is primarily intended for people with dyslexia and other reading difficulties, as well as for other reading fans. The app uses a specially designed OmoType font system with high readability and customisation options to individual user needs. OmoReader also offers a host of other features that facilitate reading and learning. This idea was developed at OmoLab – Visual Communication Laboratory and realised in partnership with Locastic, which has developed the mobile app. “I would like to thank 24sata for the award given to the team which worked on a project whose goal is not just making money,” said Antonio Perić Mažar from Locastic.

Translated from (reported by Ivan Hruškovec).

More news about creative Croatians can be found in the Made in Croatia section.


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Small D3Stooges3D Printing Studio Becomes Profitable Business

They left their former jobs, took out all the savings and started their business. This is the beginning of the story about D3Stooges3D, a small printing studio hidden on the ground floor of one of the buildings in Novi Zagreb, where four friends print everything customers ask them, from animal figures and characters from movies and video games to cups, pods, soap holders, earrings. And they are doing great, reports Večernji List on February 13, 2019.

“It started four years ago when our father put together a 3D printer because he wanted to work on aeroplanes models,” said the brothers Daniel and Luke Kirin, remembering how they first got interested in the technology. They were joined by their friends, also brothers Ivan and Filip Ormuž. They bought drawing tablets for one hundred euros and started to improvise. They downloaded models from the internet and printed them as a test, but soon they started making their own.

“We printed everything we could think of. Sometimes we would succeed, sometimes not. For example, a longboard shaft we designed for ourselves got completely stuck to the table,” explained Luka.

After some time, they received an offer for a larger project, 400 casings for TV sets. They went into the "unknown", as they say, but the job turned out well, and they earned good money. And so, they decided to devote themselves to business more seriously. “We said ‘let's try it,’ took out all our savings and started the company,” Daniel described.

Now they have five printers, four with the FDM technology and one with the DLP technology, each costing between 1,000 and 2,000 euros. The design process begins with receiving the order, and besides the printing, the guys also design and process the finished items. They work with the resin as well, and they started improvising with ceramics. They are currently creating a 40-part Volkswagen van replica that will serve as a gramophone records shelf.

“We are never bored since clients order different things. The price of a product ranges from 50 kuna for simpler pendants, up to tens of thousands of kuna for more demanding projects. The most expensive one was the decoration for a shop window near Makarska. It took us a month to do it,” they said.

They have also had several international projects, and they plan over time to expand to the overseas market. “The 3D printing is still relatively unknown and underdeveloped, but people abroad recognise its potential much more. For the time being, in Croatia it is mostly used in medicine, for example, for artificial hips, while creative printing like we do is almost non-existent,” said Ivan.

All four believe they had not made a mistake when they decided to launch D3Stooges3D. “We are doing what we love; this is a creative job, and it is always interesting, and if one can live from it than it is a perfect combination,” the team from Zapruđe concluded.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Jelena Pišonić Babić).

More news on Croatian entrepreneurs can be found in the Made in Croatia section.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Plenković Meets Business Executives in Davos

ZAGREB, January 25, 2019 - On the first day of the World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković had a number of meetings with executives of global companies operating or interested in operating in Croatia.

Among them were the CEOs of DAMAC Group, Hoffmann-La Roche, Antofagasta Minerals and Marriott International, the vice-president of Coca-Cola, Google's president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the vice-president of Mastercard.

"At a forum like this, many global companies seek contact with leaders to see how they can help their companies to establish a presence in their country," Plenković told Croatian reporters.

He said that Google had shown interest in digitisation in Croatia, Coca-Cola wanted to make its contribution to social responsibility and Mastercard was interested in financial services. He said that the Marriott hotel chain was interested in establishing a presence in Croatia.

Plenković in particular singled out the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche, which has made it possible for 12 Croatian citizens suffering from spinal muscular atrophy to receive free treatment in Croatia during the clinical testing of its drug. "This was the result of last year's Davos, and now we are expanding the cooperation with them," he added.

Asked if last year's meetings with business executives in Davos had been productive, Plenković cited the example of, saying that "it is doing an excellent job helping the Croatian tourist industry."

Talks with the Lukšić Group were also excellent last year. In addition to their presence in the tourism sector, they have also provided an excellent training programme for civil servants and the digitisation of public services, with emphasis on the healthcare system, he said.

On Thursday evening, the Croatian prime minister was due to meet with the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria, and for the first time with the leader of the German CDU party and possible future Chancellor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Plenković recalled that last year in Davos he had a number of meetings with prime ministers, adding that this year he wanted to hear first-hand what the Irish prime minister thought of Brexit.

The World Economic Forum has brought together political and business leaders from more than 100 countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, the leaders of the United States, France, the United Kingdom and China are not among the 3,000 participants.

More news on the Croatian politics can be found in our special section.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Croatian President Meets with World Business Angels

ZAGREB, January 22, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović on Tuesday received the president of the World Business Angels Investment Forum, Baybars Altuntas, who is on a visit to Croatia for the opening of the first office of this business network in the European Union, the Office of the Croatian President said in a press release.

A World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) office was opened in Zabok, northwestern Croatia, on Monday and will gather business angels from all over the European Union.

The office makes Krapina-Zagorje County part of the world's financial and business network aimed at facilitating access to capital for startups and scaleups, it was said at the opening.

President Grabar-Kitarović congratulated Krapina-Zagorje County on becoming part of this global financial network, expressing confidence the newly-opened office would help startup and scaleup businesses in their networking efforts and facilitate their access to capital.

The WBAF is an international organisation helping new companies finance their business endeavours and the people that are part of it are called business angels.

Baybars Altuntas is a Turkish entrepreneur, angel investor, speaker and author based in Istanbul. He founded Deulcom International.

According to information he presented in Zabok on Monday, last year 340,000 business angels in Europe invested 9.8 billion euro in startups.

More news on doing business in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Bulgaria to Overtake Croatia in Doing Business Rankings?

Provided it is more successful than Croatian in reforms, Bulgaria could overtake Croatia in the World Bank’s Doing Business Rankings, warns the most recent analysis of business climate prepared by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), reports Jutarnji List on January 8, 2019.

The HGK analysis is based on international competitiveness and business conditions research, especially the World Bank’s Doing Business. The Chamber is particularly concerned about the slow and costly administrative procedures encountered by entrepreneurs in Croatia.

The most critical point of doing business in Croatia is the issuing of building permits. Croatia is the weakest member of the EU on this indicator, and at the global level, there are just 31 countries worse than Croatia. The progress that has been achieved over the years in this area is slow, and in some years, according to the HGK, there has even been deterioration. The number of procedures needed (22) has not changed since 2011, while the number of days required to be issued a building permit (146) has remained the same since 2015. It should be noted that the time needed to receive a building permit differs from town to town, and the Doing Business rankings are based on Zagreb.

“Obviously, here the most critical issue is cost, although we need to reduce the number of procedures as well. In Croatia, there are costs connected with 14 out of 22 procedures, while in Malta there are costs for 6 out of 14 procedures. The utility fee represents close to 70 percent of all the costs associated with obtaining a building permit,” said the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. In Malta, the cost of issuing building permits is two percent of the investment value, while in Croatia it reaches 10.9 percent.

The area of issuing building permits is one of those which substantially affect the ease of doing business, and many countries have implemented reforms during the last year. Their efforts involved speeding up procedures, shortening the time needed to collect documents, reducing costs, and digitalisation. On the other hand, Croatia is still waiting for the real reforms in this area.

Another critical point is paying taxes. The tax payment procedures and the time it takes to pay taxes in Croatia are still among the longest and most complicated among comparable countries. For example, businesses in Croatia pay taxes 34 times a year, which takes 206 hours. In comparison, in Hong Kong, which is ranked the best in the world by this indicator, tax payments are made just three times a year, and businesses spend only 34.5 hours. In Riga, the capital of Latvia, which is the best rated among the new EU members, taxes are paid seven times a year.

Croatia is lagging when it comes to starting a business as well. For example, to establish a company in Zagreb, it is necessary to perform eight procedures in 22.5 days. On the other hand, in Auckland, New Zealand, which is the best in the world by this indicator, just one step is needed. In Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, people spend only three and a half days executing the three procedures required to start a business.

These are all areas where there is the most significant room for improvement and which should see accelerated reforms that will improve the business climate in the country and strengthen the competitiveness of the Croatian economy, concluded the HGK analysis.

More news on doing business in Croatia can be found in our Business section.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Adriano Milovan).

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Businesses Demand Further Easing of Administrative Burden

ZAGREB, January 3, 2019 - Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) director general Davor Majetić commended on Thursday an action plan to ease the administrative burden on businesses the government endorsed today, saying it was important not to stop relieving the business sector.

"We commend the action plan to relieve businesses which the government presented today and which plans savings in excess of 600 million kuna," Majetić told Hina. This is very important "because this 600 million kuna will stay in the hands of employers who will be able to invest it and increase workers' salaries."

He underlined the simplification of procedures, saying they were more difficult to gauge financially but were a big expense for employers. Their simplification reduces the time employers must spend to meet their obligations to the government, which is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses which have few resources and to which every time-saving measure is very important, he said.

Majetić said it was important that the alleviation of the burden did not stop, calling for continuing to examine all levies and procedures that businesses encountered every day. It is also necessary to adopt tools for the control of the introduction of any new levy or procedure that could cause employers new problems, he added.

"It's necessary to introduce more serious control so that the number of new taxes for citizens or employers doesn't get out of hand again."

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce also welcomed the government's action plan, saying it expected it to be carried out as quickly and completely as possible.

More news on doing business in Croatia can be found in our Business section.

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