Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Meeting G2.5 - Let's Build Business Bridges to be Held in Zagreb

This year's MEETING G2 - Gradimo poslovne mostove, Meeting G2 - Let's build business bridges is to take place on November 4th until the 6th, 2019, in Zagreb.

Organised to connect the businesses of Croats in Croatia and the diaspora, the event expects over 200 participants, out of which 70 are expected to be successful international business people of Croatian origin. The participants will be able to learn, among other things, about the successes of the Canadian Croatian Business Network (CCBN), as well as the challenges for Croatian entrepreneurs in Austria.

CCBN has been established to improve and strengthen the relationships between the Canadian and Croatian business people, who wish to expand the potential of business cooperation between the two countries. One of the participants in the panel will be Joe Bašić, who is the president of the CCBN, and he will present the work of the network and their successes at the conference.

In the last nine years, since the network was established, the commerce between Canada and Croatia has gone up more than five-fold (from 127 million kuna in 2010 to 635 million kuna in 2019), that made Croatia one of Canada's leading partners and the biggest one in South-Eastern Europe.

Joe Bašić stated that the members of the CCBN are successful and renowned business people, experts, and entrepreneurs living and working in Croatia, but who have the direct experience of working in Canada. That experience allows them to fully understand the obstacles that might appear and ensures the expertise and the knowledge needed to overcome those barriers and succeed. He believes that further growth in commerce will happen, and especially after the CETA agreement (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) has been signed, which removes those barriers in various sectors.

Denis Rukavina from Metronet, John Gasparac from PWC, Adrian Beljo from Edward Bernays University College for Communication Management and Dennis Zovko from Importanne Resort Dubrovnik will join Joe Bašić at the panel to discuss the concrete, successful examples of cooperation, as well as the specificities in the way of doing business. They will also offer their opinions on how to help entrepreneurs from both countries to improve cooperation.

A panel organised by the Association of the Croatian Entrepreneurs in Austria will discuss the experiences and challenges of working in Austria.

Several successful Croatian entrepreneurs from demanding sectors, such as IT, law, the hospitality industry and consulting, will offer their thoughts and advice. These include Mario Harapin (Delikro.at), Domagoj Dolinsek (Planradar), Bernard Batinić (Heptabit), Tomislav Stipic (Artus), Tanja Škorić (Startaparat) and Lucija Veličan (Talentarium).

Niko Ilić, the President of the Association, said that Austria is a robust market and that the possibilities for Croatian companies on that market are enormous. That's why the Association is trying to connect the two economies and make it easier for Croatian entrepreneurs to work in Austria. There are 150 members in the Association currently, mostly coming from the construction, metals, tourist, IT, and hospitality sectors, which have the best results. He added that they're also proud that the members of the Association still work actively on the Croatian market as well.

This year's Meeting G2 conference, just like every one before it, is organised under the auspices of the Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who will also speak at the opening of the conference.

On the first day of the event, the presentation of the successful Croatian franchises will be held, as well as a pitch session for the startups. The second day will focus on five panel-discussions that will also focus on the successes by the Croatian designers on the international markets, successful Croatian exporters, and current events in the IT world. In addition to the panels, the participants will be able to get to hear several inspirational business stories, including that of Ivan Mrvoš and his smart benches, and Hrvoje Bušić and Tomislav Anadolac, the duo that makes the best gin in the world.

Božo Skoko, a professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb, will discuss the development of the identity and the brand of Croatia, while Natko Vlahović will discuss the importance of the Croatian chairing of the European Union.

You can find additional information on the conference website and the YouTube channel.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Croat Achieves Business Dreams in Canada, Wants to Expand in Croatia

Mateo from Rijeka, Croatia, arrived in the Canadian city of Toronto with some of his personal belongings and five thousand Canadian dollars, three thousand of which were his savings throughout the years, and a thousand dollars were given to him by his family. He didn't know anyone, and he didn't have a recommendation, writes Poslovni Dnevnik on the 8th of October, 2019.

Mateo Polić was born in 1990 in the Northern Ariatic city of Rijeka, where he graduated from school, after that, he graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, majoring in Business Economics. While studying in Zagreb, he met a few people who were resident or staying in Canada because of their work, which in some ways expanded his business perspective.

''I got a job offer in one company for 1,600 kuna. It was part of the program of employment of highly educated persons for vocational training without employment. I refused and decided to leave Croatia. Canada was my choice. I applied for a working holiday visa, which at the time was granted once per year, in February, under the "fastest finger" system, without looking for any other conditions.

At that time, the Canadian Embassy issued 275 such visas a year, and several thousand were reported that year. I was literally sitting in front of my computer waiting for a some news and - I succeeded, writes Novi list.

I told myself and them - I'm going to try it, so as to at least use the one year visa. Namely, after a year, 90 percent of people return from Canada because they cannot extend their residence permit in the country. A visa can only be extended if, if you've found a job, and you can prove that you're better than any Canadian applying for that same job, Polić explains.

A few months after obtaining a permanent visa, Mateo decided to move on, to change jobs. He left Michael Page, a company that recruits people for work, something like an employment agency.

''After Michael Page, I joined Shopify, which allows the fast startup of a website where I worked as an in-house headhunter. After three years working for others, in May 2016, I decided to start my own recruitment firm, Accentio Group, and we're focused on marketing and sales. I have two employees, I work five days a week, from 08:00 to 18:00, I'm free on the weekends. So far I'm very pleased, I'm making a decent living. However, I've got no intention of just stopping there,'' Polić told Novi list.

I saved about a thousand dollars a month, and after three years, I decided to invest all my savings from that period, a total of 36 thousand Canadian dollars, into my own business. I took the risk, but it paid off. I now have thirty clients from four countries - Canada, America, the Netherlands and Germany.

I have plans to expand to England, but my wish is to expand to Croatia, says Mateo Polić, adding that at the moment he is not considering returning to Croatia, but does want to open a branch here.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Monday, 23 September 2019

VIDEO: Scientist With Croatian Roots Creates ''Flying Fish'' Robot

As Goran Jungvirth/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 22nd of September, 2019, Mirko Kovač, a team leader for scientists and director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at the Imperial College London, has achieved yet another great success by creating a new type of biology-inspired robot. This scientist with Croatian roots has thus created a very unusual invention indeed.

The unusual robot uses water to generate gas and as such, launch from the water's surface. After takeoff, it can travel 26 metres through the air and could be used to collect water samples in hazardous and inaccessible areas, such as during floods and to control the pollution of the world's oceans, seas and rivers.

Robots that can transition from water to air are desirable in situations such as the above-mentioned scenario, but when it comes to really making them move, it takes a lot of power, which is much more difficult to achieve for small robots.

Now, researchers at the Imperial College London have, under Kovač's direction, invented a system that requires only 0.2 grams of calcium carbide powder in a combustion chamber. The only moving part is a small pump that brings in water from the surrounding environment, such as a lake, river or, ocean. The collected water and the calcium carbide powder are then combined in the reaction chamber, creating a flammable acetylene gas. As the gas ignites and expands, it displaces the water like a jet, which pushes the robot out of the water and gives it energy to fly up to 26 metres.

"The water-to-air transition is a process that requires a lot of energy, and this is difficult to achieve with small vehicles that need to be light when they're in flight. We used water-responsive chemicals to reduce the materials the robot needed to carry. Because the chamber is filled passively and the water from the environment acts as a piston, we can create a full combustion cycle with only one moving part, which is a pump that mixes water and fuel," Mirko Kovač, a robotics researcher with Croatian roots who has researched robots at prestigious universities such as Harvard and Berkeley, told Poslovni Dnevnik.

The robot, weighing a mere 160 grams can "jump" multiple times after filling up its water tank. This can allow it to hover over water and take samples in multiple locations without needing to use additional power, thus successfully saving energy over greater distances compared to an electrically driven robot.

Today, a team of experts led by Dr. Kovač work with their partners in Switzerland to build new vehicles using advanced materials, and field trials of robots in a variety of environments are underway, including monitoring the ocean around coral reefs and coastal energy platforms.

Mirko Kovač is, as mentioned, a Swiss of Croatian roots, and this year Poslovni Dnevnik interviewed him to discuss the potential of robotics development here in Croatia. He then participated in the international DroneDays conference held at the Faculty of Electronics and Computing in the City of Zagreb.

The new Swiss Centre was created in collaboration with the London Laboratory, which Kovač included in collaboration with the FER Laboratory for Robotics and Intelligent Control Systems.

Because of this collaboration, which has been going on for several years now, the Zagreb and London laboratories were awarded the AeRo Twin project from the EU's Horizon 2020 EU research and innovation program, pushing them rightfully to the very top in the fast paced and ever advancing world of robotics.

Various lectures will be organised, as well as an exchange of scientists, and roboticists from Croatia will be staying in London to see what they can do in a similar sense in Zagreb.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Owner of Korčula Boutique Hotel: ''I Came Home and Fulfilled My Dreams''

As Novac/Dora Lozica writes on the 25th of August, 2019, Novac met Zlatko Fabris, 41, at his hotel on Korčula, engrossed in figures and tables. He received the journalists cordially, though limping, telling them that he had injured his leg when splitting firewood, he had to undergo surgery, but that there's no time for that now!

When the season starts, there's no time for health either, Zlatko says, only work! The times of hotel owners simply sitting back and watching as hotel and restaurant workers do the hard work have passed.

With this philosophy, Zlatko came from South Africa to beautiful Korčula exactly fifteen years ago. Born in South Africa, Zlatko has always dreamed of one day returning to his roots, his old Korčula surname, Fabris, called him back to the Dalmatian island. However, it was not easy to decide to come to Croatia without knowing the language and the everyday ways of life, Fabris revealed.

His family is engaged in construction and tourism, but South Africa's dark history of the coexistence of blacks and whites was turbulent, to say the very least. 

''Back there, people will put a gun to your head there for money,'' Zlatko admits, so he decided to come to Korčula, hoping to find his peace there and a place where life is worth more than just money. And he wasn't mistaken. First, he tried his best to learn the Croatian language, because how can someone named Zlatko not speak Croatian!? It's simply impossible! And then he got to grips with what's best for him - his business, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

With his initial capital, he bought a house on Plokata, the main town square in the very centre of Korčula. He bought the house from the City of Korčula itself, who then bought the birth house of Marco Polo with that money. The house soon became the famous "Happy House" hostel, with dozens of backpackers staying overnight. There was always a loud and cheerful atmosphere at "Happy House", Zlatko admits they had a good time with alcohol, song and laughter, but that it annoyed the people who lived nearby.

''They were absolutely right and I understood them one hundred percent, I started thinking how I could change the concept. I have to say, hats off to the team from the Lešić Dimitri Hotel and the Korsal Hotel, they were the first to start the story of the boutique hotel, they had the courage to do it first.

When one begins, the other is encouraged, and in 2015 one of them was me. The Fabris opened its doors,'' Zlatko says, referring to his four-star boutique hotel, which is not really a hotel because it has no elevator. Namely, in order to register his facility as a hotel, he has to have an elevator for four floors, and circumstances don't allow him to install an elevator, so he calls his facility simply "The Fabris''.

But "The Fabris" is, after all, a small "boutique" four-star hotel.

Increasingly, the term "boutique" hotel can be heard in Croatia as an ideal destination for those who, in addition to their holidays, want to experience and know more about the destination they're visiting.

"Boutique" or "lifestyle" hotels are a new trend of tourist offer, only a few decades or so old. They are smaller in capacity, but are designed in a luxury and indigenous style, relying on the values, culture and customs of the area in which they are located.

This was exactly the concept that Zlatko used to manage the interior of his building in Korčula, so he could leave everything in its original form when it was renovated. The interior walls, as well as the exterior ones, are made of antique stone, and the stairs, floors, beds and openings are made of solid oak. In all the bathrooms, there is a combination of stone and glass, the floors are adorned with expensive carpets that Zlatko brought from different parts of the world, while on the walls are old photographs of the Fabris family, which tell the visual stories of formerly world-renowned Korčula shipbuilders, including Zlatko's great-grandfather.

"The Fabris" is an attractive yet relaxed blend of tradition and a modern, minimalist approach. Zlatko didn't make the mistake of taking his initial success for granted, and last year, he decided to make another investment. About ten metres from the hotel, he bought another abandoned ruin in the heart of Korčula.

With an investment of one million euros and a lot of hard and dedicated work, that ruin has been transformed into "The Fabris 2" this season, with eleven luxurious rooms decorated in the same tone as the first hotel. The capacity of "The Fabris" is currently 21 rooms, with a rating of 9.4 on booking.com. His guests are delighted, they don't want an industrial environment, but the ability to enjoy Korčula's history, architecture and authentic culture. Most of Zlatko's guests are English-speaking, as many as 80 percent of them.

Zlatko does not take all the credit for his success.

''In the season, I employ 11 people for 6 months, half of them for longer than that. They do a fantastic job and it's important to me that they have good salaries. Money motivates people and if you want loyalty and quality, you have to pay. In addition, I want people on the island to live well all 12 months of the year, I wish that every year I could travel somewhere to get to know other countries and cultures so that they would be good hosts themselves. Yes, the season has been 30 percent weaker, but that's temporary, next year, it will be even worse, So, 2015 or 2016 will happen again. You just have to always do your best,'' Fabris explained.

''I believe in Croatia and our future. We're not just any old country or any old city, we have centuries of culture and history and this is our strongest asset. We quarrel with each other, but when there is a serious problem, we are one. I think the workers from the hospitality sector from the island need to meet once a month, we have to have a common plan and strategy, stick together and help one another. From the first day, the Korčula locals have accepted me just as I am, and I'm grateful to be able to live and work here,'' Zlatko concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travellifestyle and Croatian diaspora pages for much more.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Follow the Journey of Kristiana Banđen on Croatia's First Domovina Birthright Program

June 30, 2019 - An excellent initiative to bring the diaspora in closer contact with the Homeland starts next month. Follow Kristiana Banđen on her journey on the inaugural Domovina Birthright Program.

As previously reported on TCN, the first Domovina Birthright Program will take place next month, an initiative between the American Croatian Association of Professionals, and the Croatian Government. The idea of the program is to take the young adults of Croatian descent (ages 18 – 30), who wish to learn about their heritage, explore Croatia, connect with their Croatian identity and meet other young Croatian adults on an amazing trip to Croatia.

We are delighted to welcome Kristiana Banđen to TCN. Kristiana is one of the 34 initial participants in the program, and she will be documenting her journey as she explores the country of her heritage. Here she is, introducing herself. 

Follow the journey through the Domovina Program

This year, the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) has partnered with the Croatian government to announce the Domovina Birthright Program (DBP). The DBP is a unique, historical 16-day cultural and educational immersion tour of Croatia created to allow young Croatian adults the opportunity to explore their country while learning about their Croatian heritage and explore their identity with 33 other chosen participants.

Kristiana-Banđen-1.jpg

This is the first year that the DBP has been announced and having been one of the chosen participants, I will be writing an insight into the program and its daily activities.

>Born in Canada, both of my parents were born and raised in Croatia. I have chosen to apply to participate in the program to be able to further explore my country in a way I have never been able to before. This cultural experience will be eye-opening and I wish to share our adventures in the hopes to create excitement for the program in young Croatian adults. Being the first year the program is being held, I hope to aid in the success of the program and in generating interest for future participants to apply.

Commencing on July 10th and ending on July 25th, follow my journey throughout the Domovina Birthright Program exploring sites of cultural and historical significance and in varied hikes of Croatia’s landscape and nature.

To follow more from the Croatian diaspora, follow the dedicated TCN section

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Successful Diaspora Returnee Stories: Daniela Rogulj, Total Croatia News, Split

June 18, 2019 - TCN's recent series featuring the successful returnee stories from the speakers at the recent diaspora tourism conference in Split led to several requests for more of the same. And so we continue in the same vein, looking at more people who have made the successful switch back to the Homeland, starting with TCN's very own Daniela Rogulj, who made the switch from California to Split. 

1. You are from California, returned to Croatia, something that many diaspora dream of doing. Tell us briefly about your journey.

It all happened by accident. In a nutshell, I came to Croatia via San Diego, San Francisco, Nashville, and London. I was born and raised in San Diego to a mother from Metković, father from Split, a grandfather from Prapatnica and grandmother from Stari Grad on Hvar. I moved to San Francisco for University, managed a cupcake shop, graduated, played a part in the tech industry, started developing my own mobile app and said bye to it all at 23 for Nashville and eventually London. 

After impulsively crossing the pond with my parents at 24, which saw me nearly overstay my six months as an American in the U.K., I needed a solution, and fast. I went back to California to get my birth certificate amended (my last name was spelled ‘Roguli’ instead of ‘Rogulj’), so I could begin the process of obtaining my Croatian citizenship to ensure I could remain living in London. Let’s just say that upon my return back to Heathrow, the immigration officer was having a bad day, and back to California, I went. Over the next few months, my parents decided to move back to the homeland and settled in Split. I visited them in Split the summer of 2015 without the faintest idea that it would be my home for the next four years.

11223613_10206184640068468_4070824140116673960_o.jpg

The day Daniela became a Croatian citizen

My first 10 or so months in Split were spent trying to meet people while figuring out what I would here. A job at Total Split popped up on my Facebook feed in April 2016, and considering I studied journalism in college and was the token blog writer for the San Francisco startups I worked for, I gave it a shot. I joined Total Croatia News in May of 2016 to lead Total Split, and that’s when my life in Croatia really began. 

Not only did TCN open a world of doors for me, with invites to exclusive events and excursions to explore the gems of Croatia, but I've had the chance to meet (and befriend) innovative business and restaurant owners around the country, many of whom are in the diaspora community. It's also given me opportunities I never thought possible - at least not possible for me in the United States. Like following Hajduk from Split to Liverpool, or the Croatia national team from Zagreb to London. My work for TCN during the World Cup last summer was recognized by the largest sports radio station in the world, and I found myself as the Croatian correspondent for various radio shows in the UK last year - the BBC even called me for an interview. I marked my third year with TCN last month (thanks Paul & team).

2. Looking back, what were your hopes, expectations and fears about moving to Croatia?

Maybe it’s best that I didn’t have many considering I had no plans to live here at all. After I received my citizenship that summer (which surprisingly took a painless two weeks in Croatia compared to a year of torture in London and the US), I must have told my parents every day that I would not be calling Croatia my home and furiously looked at apartments and jobs in Berlin or anywhere but Croatia. To me, Croatia was my summer home; where life stopped when the seasons changed. I didn’t know Croatia past the warm and lively summer season, and I wasn’t interested in finding out. 

17498786_10210410323707918_3869763639923333055_n.jpg

But after the summer settled that September and I celebrated my 25th birthday on a mild Split day, something changed. Split wasn’t just the transit hub I knew to get to Hvar or the pitstop my family would make for a Hajduk game. Split was a spirited city - and at the time, it was experiencing a new renaissance. I told myself I’d be a fool not to give Split a chance, and perhaps my biggest fear then was not knowing the slightest bit of what lay ahead. I was lucky to be young enough at the time to fail and start over again 100 times, and I guess I expected that much. I was worried about meeting people, if the language barrier would make it harder, and what job I would do in Croatia at all. I had experience in the tech industry, which at the time I had no idea even existed in Croatia, and I knew I wasn’t comfortable jumping into an office job in a working culture I knew nothing about. The one upside about moving here without a clue of what I’d do is that it forced me to get out, meet people and begin the conversation. This settled my fear and slowly made me more and more comfortable with my decision to stay here. 

3. How supportive was your Croatian community back home at the time?

My Croatian community back home consisted exclusively of my extended family, and I remember some of them expressing mixed feelings about it all. The ones that knew Croatia well wondered what I’d do here. “You’ll make significantly less than you did in San Francisco, and you have no idea what it’s like in the winter!” I’m sure even today some of them think I’ll come back to the States, which isn’t in my plans whatsoever. 

26172492_1686587404695682_3963371936455018823_o.jpg

My immediate family has supported me unconditionally throughout my journey, and I owe them the world for that. It certainly helped that my parents were by my side as I started my journey in Split. 

family ocllage.jpg

Because I never officially announced that I was moving to Croatia, and just proceeded to stay after that summer, I think I missed a lot of the pressure and criticisms there could be otherwise. 

4. What were the main differences in what you expected to find in Croatia and the reality of living in Croatia?

Learning to live seasonally. Something I cherish now, but struggled with when I couldn’t find tomatoes my first winter here. But also adapting to the seasons in general - spring is the warm up, summer is the peak when you're too busy to breathe, autumn is reserved for unwinding from the season, as is winter, but everything in the winter is closed. Seasons don’t exist in California, so this took some getting used to.  

The pace of life, in general, is another one. While it’s easy to adapt to the lax mentality in Dalmatia when you’re holidaying here in the summer, it throws you for a loop when you’re living here permanently and trying to get things done. Though it has its perks, and I’ve definitely adopted the ‘pomalo’ way in some aspects of my life, like learning to walk at a considerably slower pace than my city days in San Francisco. And to-go coffee is a thing of the past. 

60850593_10216341160215124_2007193141186134016_o.jpg

Furthermore, America is the land of customer service, and you learn pretty quickly that Croatia is not. Though I still tip as I would in the States hoping that this small nod to good service can be an example for others. 

A monumental difference is how safe Croatia is. Ditching the pepper spray from my city days for the uninterrupted late-night walk home is a massive bonus. You also get the feeling that the people around you will lend a helping hand, without asking any questions. 

 4. Many diasporas think of returning but few do. In truth, there is little information out there about real-life stories and help/info about the process. What advice do you have for those who are thinking about making the move?

Be patient, take a lot of deep breaths, stay here in the winter or a good part of the offseason, and try not to compare it to back home. Coming here with a plan is probably smart, though you have to expect that plan will be altered, edited, amended, adjusted, and most likely rewritten at least once. On the contrary, I had no plan and really no idea, and still managed to find my way. 

12132599_10206256063454008_5390133959188079466_o.jpg

While it's nearly impossible for us stubborn Dalmatians, ask for help, because you’ll be surprised to find how many people have already been through what you’re going through. And if they don’t have answers, they’ll at least lead you in the right direction. 

But really, deep breaths and the willingness to endure uphill battles is a must, though coming out on the other side is incredibly rewarding. Come determined and try to weed out a lot of the negativity you'll hear - it's not always true, and remember, we do love any reason to complain. 

5. How were you perceived in Split as diaspora moving back - was the welcome warm?

“Why in the world would you leave California?” If I had a lipa for every Uber driver’s baffled expression when I tell them I live here permanently…

On the upside, it does open a platform to educate Croatians thinking of leaving that life isn’t always greener on the other side. 

football life.jpg

But yes, the welcome was warm, and you quickly learn that there are a lot of others just like you; a lot of others who took the leap to live here. And that is a feeling of comfort by itself.

6. Through a lot of hard work, you have been very successful, while many foreigners have given up and left Croatia. What are the keys to success in doing business in Croatia in your opinion?

Learn the importance of having a bubble (and when to come out of it), persevere (the American work ethic definitely pays off here), and keep a supportive group of like-minded people close. Try not to let people know too much too quickly and be careful with who you let in. Testing the waters is key. Acclimating to how the locals operate to ease your daily frustrations is equally as important.  And if you're lucky to have just a few run-ins with the beauty of Croatian bureaucracy while you're here, consider that a great success.

46462340_10215063398631883_9092873037568540672_n.jpg

Daniela on-air with Talk Sport at their studio in London.

7. What is the diaspora community like in Split and how integrated is it with locals?

I’d say that Split has a reasonably large diaspora (and expat) community. From the events I’ve been to, there seem to be more ‘foreigners’ than locals. The expat group holds book swaps, coffee meetups and pizza nights, while the 'Croatian Australians & NZers and Friends in Split' group organizes outings for Anzac Day and the like. I believe that keeping a healthy balance of locals and expats is crucial to creating the harmony you need in Split. 

20637863_10211642530672322_5521833323935761226_n.jpg

8. And finally, 3 things you would change in Croatia?

The drivers - do pedestrian crossings mean anything in Croatia?

Talk about the war - which I am surprised to see discussed often in the diaspora community. We will never move forward by looking back.

The amount of time it takes to get anything done. From the beloved Croatian bureaucracy to checking out at a grocery store. You quickly get used to the delay, and while I enjoy that waiters don’t rush to bring you your bill after coffee, it’s another story when paperwork is involved, or you’re at the bank or just trying to keep anything to a schedule. Schedules don’t really exist here, and neither does the concept of being ‘on time’. Remember, "I'll be there in 5 minutes" usually means at least 30 and probably an hour. Welcome to Dalmatia. It has its perks. 

For more on the Croatian diaspora, check out the TCN dedicated section

Are you a returnee who has moved back to Croatia and would like to be featured in this series? Please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

A Delight for Croatian Diaspora: Oliver to be Honored with 70 Concerts Around World

Petar Dragojević, a famous Split singer, is the most sought after Croatian musician among the Croatian Diaspora around the world. Many of them know Petar as Oliver's nephew, whose singing skills often remind them of the musical legend. Petar and Oliver even created a duet titled "Istog smo roda” ("We are the same") a couple of years ago, reports Dalmacija Danas on April 22, 2019. 

Performing at concerts from Australia to Germany, the young Dragojević often remembers this, especially when his audience knows that he is Oliver's blood. 

“We spent a lot of time together in Vela Luka, where we used to be together 24 hours a day. Oliver's family and my family lived together until I was three, and we are still very attached today. I have excellent contact with my cousins, Oliver's sons, and Vesna. There are a lot of nice memories, the emotions from fishing to the bocce we often played, as well as cards. There was only a little song, and you will not believe that we talked very little about music in these family circles, mostly about family topics. If you'd touched on music then the conversations on the subject would be good, short and fruitful. Oliver did not like to philosophize. He would just give me advice for three minutes, saying it would be good to write that song,” said Petar Dragojević. 

“Then if I would bring the text of that song a second time and sing it so Oliver could hear it, he would simply say: 'That's a good thing for you!' He always said that the most important thing is a good song and how the song will best succeed. So that’s how we came to do a duet when we recorded the song 'Istog smo roda'. Concerning the music, we talked for three minutes and that was all. I really miss Oliver, first as an uncle and then as a man. He was an icon of the Croatian music scene, for 50 years writing songs for people who were emotionally attached. I see how much it means to people today, how people miss him, and no one can replace or inherit him. Oliver is unrepeatable!”

Did Oliver have anything to do with the beginning of Petar’s music career?

“Absolutely. In our family, everyone was involved in Oliver’s music, my father and our grandfather, and even great grandfather. Genetics were like that with me. Otherwise, Oliver and my dad never needed to push their kids into music. Only when someone had ambitions, Oliver would support them. I went to music school and music was my path from the beginning. Oliver immediately recognized that and helped me at the most important moments, and knew to say, 'You fight for it son because only you will achieve what you want!'

Petar will also honor Oliver with concerts around the world.

“Most performances are in Germany and then in Canada and Australia. Soon we plan to organize 70 concerts around the world for our Diaspora. The concerts will include the most beautiful Oliver songs, featuring ten famous performers, including my little one. All singers will follow Oliver's musical composition. The tour will last for a year and a half, and will start in Sweden, Germany, Australia, Canada, America, mostly in larger cities, where many of our emigrants worshipped Oliver.”

Petar wants to remind the Diaspora of Oliver's music.

“I often visit our Diaspora in Frankfurt, and I am very pleased to visit Kruno Perković in Darmstadt, where I plan to hold a performance soon. He often presents our songs to his guests, which I enjoy. I see that our successful business people around the world have not forgotten their roots and they remain connected with their homeland,” concluded Petar.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Cleveland Hosts Event to Connect Croatia and Northeast Ohio

CLEVELAND, April 1, 2019 – The Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP)—Cleveland hosted an Evening with the Croatian Embassy — an event to connect Croatia and Northeast Ohio for economic empowerment — on Friday, March 29, 2019 at the American Croatian Lodge in Eastlake with support from the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia to the United States located in Washington, D.C. The black-tie event was also co-hosted by the American Croatian Business Association (Cleveland).

“Croatia has strength as a member of the European Union and NATO. Because of our deeply rooted connection to Cleveland, having around 50,000 Croatian Americans in the area, we would like to create ties between Northeast Ohio and Croatia for trade, joint business ventures, investment and to link companies on a global level,” says Pjer Šimunović, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United States in Washington D.C.

Ambassador and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson2.JPG

Ambassador Šimunović was accompanied by Mirna Vlašić Feketija, Minister Counselor, and Nikica Kopačević, Counselor, also members of Croatia’s diplomatic mission to the U.S.

The event engaged conversations around economic development, trade fostering and knowledge exchange in order to: establish an economic development pathway between Croatia and Northeast Ohio, encourage Croatian Americans to network within and outside of Northeast Ohio and promote Croatian culture and awareness.

Pjer Šimunović with Kevin Malecek.JPG

Not only is Croatia a business powerhouse on the global level, it’s also flourishing locally. Two local Croatian American owned businesses, and ACAP members, showcased their companies at the event: Secure IT Asset Disposition Services, specializing in IT asset disposal and recycling services, owned by Mario Jurcic in Oakwood Village and Matic Farms, a hops farm in Thompson owned by Luka and Nikola Matic.

“I’m proud of my Croatian heritage and to be an American,” says Jurcic who is also ACAP Cleveland Vice President. “It was an honor to be a part of this evening that celebrated my heritage and nationality. I hope my story can inspire someone in my community to combine their education and dreams to pursue their own business opportunities.”

Jerry C. Cirino, Lake County Commissioner, presented Ambassador Šimunović with a proclamation of the contribution of Croatian residents to Lake County and Dennis Morley, Mayor of Eastlake, presented him with the key to the city.

Embassy Event5.jpg

Earlier in the day, Ambassador Šimunović met with Cleveland Major Frank Jackson and Ken Filipiak, City Manager, Mentor, to discuss potential trade programs. The City of Cleveland also presented him with a proclamation as did Ohio Congressman Dave Joyce who co-chairs the Croatian caucus in Congress.

Embassy Event6.jpg

In addition to prominent Northeast Ohio business owners, distinguished attendees included: Kevin Kelly, City Council President, Cleveland; Kirsten Holzheimer–Gail, Mayor, City of Euclid; Dennis Morley, Mayor, City of  Eastlake; Mark Rantala, Executive Director, Lake County Ohio Port & Economic Development Authority; Ted Carter, Chief Economic Development & Business Officer, Cuyahoga County; David Bowen, President, Northern Ohio District Export Council; Bill Koehler, CEO, Team NEO; and Joe Cimperman, President, Global Cleveland.

Additional Information:
Embassy of the Republic of Croatia

The Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Washington. D.C. is the primary Croatian diplomatic mission to the United States. It operates 11 Consulates across the U.S. The Croatian Embassy represents the interests of Croatia and Croatian citizens in the and conducts the majority of diplomatic work on such interests within the U.S.

Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP)

The Association of Croatian American Professionals is a non-profit organization bringing together professionals, business leaders, academics, students and community organizers. Their mission is to foster leadership, collaboration and to promote the advancement of issues relevant to the Croatian-American community. In four years, ACAP expanded to 11 chapters, including Cleveland, in the United States and Croatia with 750 members — and growing — worldwide. 

American Croatian Business Association (ACBA)

The American Croatian Business Association is a non-profit corporation that formed in 1983 and consists of a wide variety of businesses in Northeast Ohio. Members include professionals such as architects, accountants, engineers, doctors, travel agents, bankers, realtors and management and financial consultants. The ACBAs’ goal is to unite all business and professional people of Croatian descent to develop, encourage, promote, and protect the industrial, commercial, professional, financial, cultural and general business interests of the Croatian community.

Proceeds of An Evening with the Croatian Embassy will benefit the ACAP national conference that will be held in Cleveland, Ohio from Sept. 19 through 22, 2019. The conference aims to bring together more than 500 professionals from all facets of the U.S. and international professional community, including a delegation from Croatia’s Chamber of Commerce. For more information, please visit croampro.com.

To read more about the Croatian diaspora, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

National Federation of Croatian Americans Announces “40 Under 40" Winners from USA

Washington, D.C. -- The NFCA is proud to announce the second group of “40 Under 40” Croatian Americans chosen for an award which celebrates the success and commitment of this generation. These selections recognize their talent, the accomplishments, the potential and the pride in their Croatian heritage of these forty honorees and all under the age of forty.

“We have had so much fun hearing about so many younger Croatians all over this country making their mark in so many uniquely distinct professional ways and within our community," says Andrea Novak-Neumann, “40 Under 40” committee member and NFCA Executive Vice President from Minnesota. “We looked nationwide for forty Croatian Americans who have demonstrated leadership within our community or even nationwide, with career success and many so extraordinarily successful with their dedication to Croatian causes," she added.

This new group of winners includes lawyer Marija Krpan Kuren, who was the original winner we announced last September to kick off this "40 Under 40" campaign. Marija, is one exceptional Croatian American activist who was the Croatian Fraternal Union's Guest Conductor in Zagreb in 2018 with over 400 younger Croatian Americans performing and even at Lisinski Hall in Zagreb. Marija when she's not teaching Croatian music and dance, has a day job as a General Counsel in the Pennsylvania Governor's office.

Next, let us congratulate Annie Bosko (main photo), the singer, songwriter and performer from Nashville. Annie's father is a third generation Croatian American farmer from California and this young lady has been singing since she was in diapers. Annie wrote her first song at twelve and sang with Disney Productions when she was only 14. She has had the high honor of opening for or backing up vocals with Darius Rucker, Adele, Josh Groban, Dierks Bentley and Josh Turner. Annie is one talented Croatian American singer who's very proud of her Croatian heritage.

The NFCA has chosen three other exceptional lawyers from within the legal field. Andy Kvesic excelled in Arizona's Attorney General's offices and even won "Counsel of the Year" in his department there and now is the General Counsel for The Quantum Group in the Phoenix area! Dominik Cvitanovich, a proud Croatian within the Greater New Orleans Croatian American community, joined the Carver Darden law firm in 2014 and his legal expertise is now most focused on banking, commercial litigation and also, with labor and employment issues. Dominik has recently served as a Project Leader with Youth Leadership Council which teaches members the basics of running a non-profit organization. Barbara Bijelic, is another lawyer and legal expert now working within the Responsible Business Conduct Unit (RBC) of the Organization For Economic Cooperation now based in Paris. Barbara has field experience working on governance and private sector initiatives in Cambodia, Croatia, Ethiopia, India and the Republic of Croatia.

0404194

Ana Ruzevic, firefighter and competing on the world stage too

Ana Ruzevic, another firefighter, wins this time as did Stipe Miocic two years ago. A Tulane graduate and All-American javelin thrower is a rising star, putting out fires, down in Alabama. Ana, after a stint in the insurance business and then volunteering as a firefighter, decided to make it a career and now even competes and wins at national "Firefighter Combat Challenges" competition taking 11th in the World.

Mara Oblak is a PhD expert and has studied and published about how to use "behavior analysis" to teach children with autism and behavior disorders. Mara is another Croatian American activist and in her spare time has been a longtime Board member with Seattle's CroatiaFest. Nikola Metes is another winner with many talents and a real Croatian passion and is a national officer with ACAP. Nikola has developed a marketing expertise and now works for the world renown marketing agency, Foote Cone and Belding in Chicago.

Alexander McArthy is making his mark down in Missouri and this St. Louis area resident has a joint interest in marketing and branding with a real focus on politics and digital interest group communications. Alexander has already run for the Missouri legislature and has been a nationwide advocate for the Americans For Prosperity organization.

The next winners noted are Croatian American activists. They have already made their mark in the community. First, Johnny Cvjetkovic stands out among Croatian activists of all ages in the Los Angeles area where he has excelled with St. Anthony's Kolo Club and with the Croatian Fraternal Union. He also created the St. Anthony's "Vatreni" Croatian soccer fan club. When Johnny is not busy with Croatian projects he's working as a technology professional in the entertainment industry with major Hollywood studios.

0404196

Ben Anderson, a multi-award winning executive and producer in Los Angeles

This next group includes three very talented individuals in the entertainment business including a television producer, professional dancer and a world class pianist. First, Ben Anderson is a multi-award winning executive and producer for feature film, television and virtual reality. Ben is the Executive Vice President of Phoenix Pictures where he oversaw the development of the films "Black Swan", "Shutter Island" and "The Promise." Anderson co-produced the Warner Bros, feature film "The 33" with Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche.

0404192

Maja Keres, world class dancer touring the world

Maja Keres is living her dream as a professional dancer touring with Justin Timberlake that included a Super Bowl performance and the Grammys in 2017. Keres is one of the dancers taking part in Justin's "The Man of the Woods" tour. Frane Rusinovic is a concert pianist who trained at the Levine School of Music in Washington, DC and then at the world renown Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Frane, originally from Split, has performed globally showcasing his world class skills at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. and really enjoys performing for Croatian audiences.

0404191

Anthony Piplica, CEO in the aerospace industry

The next group of winners includes seven successful rising stars from our community excelling in the business world. Anthony Piplica is an entrepreneur and engineer within the aerospace industry and the CEO and founder of Hermeus Corporation. He is focused on technology to build the fastest airplanes in the world known as the Mach 5 aircraft project. A.J., as he is known, has collaborated with the NASA Johnson Space Center and was previously CEO of Orbit Launch Services.

Next, let me highlight two talented females in uniquely different careers making their mark globally. Bernarda Pera, is a world class tennis player, currently ranked 82nd in the world, originally from Zadar.

0404195

Ottessa Moshfegh, award winning author of the book ''Eileen''

Ottessa Moshfegh, raised in the Boston area and a daughter of two musicians, an Iranian father and a Croatian mother has become a nationally recognized author. Ottessa's debut novel, Eileen won the Hemingway Foundation-Pen Award. Moshfegh has published six stories in the prestigious "Paris Review" too. Her latest novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation was published in 2018 by the Penguin Press.

From the medical world is Dr. Matt Anderson, a physician in New Hampshire working for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He completed his training in anesthesiology at Loma Linda University Medical Center and his critical care fellowship at Dartmouth. Dr. Anderson has made several humanitarian trips globally. Melina Butuci is a scientist with a focus on immuno-oncology and leukemia research. Melina's busy finishing her PH.D at the USC's Molecular Biology department but still finds time to be active with the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP).

Alan Latkovic is currently serving as Vice President, Service and Retention for the Madison Square Garden Company. Specifically, he's in charge of all customer service initiatives and season ticket retention for the NY York Rangers and NY Knicks. He developed and executed the first ever Croatian Heritage Night for the New York Knicks on January 11, 2019 with 600 Croatian Americans there. Vedran Solaja, another New Yorker, now owns his own marketing firm. After attending college in Iowa, Vedran ended up in Los Angeles and has been active with the NYCLA-New York Croatian Los Angeles group before moving East

Nikola Matic is a commercial hop farmer with the biggest hop farm in Ohio. He is driven by the belief that his "Matic Farms" should lead the way in the East developing a hop farm to support the growing craft beer industry. Nick and his brother are partners in this venture and are both active with the ACAP chapter in Cleveland.

Davor Anic is making his mark in the New York City fashion world with his men's neckwear line called the DAVOR ANIC brand. Davor moved to the USA years ago after his training at the University of Zagreb College for Textile and Technology and has completed a master's degree in fashion design and has embraced some notable design collaboration with companies like Kenneth Cole. Tena Bugarin is an incredibly successful real estate broker with Sotheby's International Realty. Tena fell in love with New York City years ago and stayed and is active with the Croatian ACAP group.

Marino Patrk is a financial advisor and partner at the O'Rourke Group at the Oppenheimer & Company. Marino manages both private and institutional wealth for clients and still finds time to to be very active in the New York City Croatian Catholic community.

The Washington, DC area has three winners. First, Adam Radman is a digital advocacy and communications expert with the Americans for Tax Reform organization and is active locally with the Croatian community and serves on the National Federation of Croatian Americans Board of Directors. Leon Suvak from Virginia is a distinguished Army officer serving our country in the Department of Defense as a Cyber Security Expert and has quite a background from Osijek to high school at prestigious Gonzaga High School in Washington, DC to college academics at the University of Wisconsin.

Next, Angela Stepancic, a proud Istrianka, has excelled as an educational activist and principal at two schools in Washington, DC and earned an undergrad degree and Master's from Georgetown University. Angela is driven to make a difference in education and her background as a child of a Croatian immigrant and a black woman from Illinois seems to have given her an abundance of empathy and a diverse understanding of human nature that has bestowed her an extraordinary array of leadership skills.

The next four honorees are all from the state of Minnesota. The first two both worked for US Congressman Rick Nolan as congressional staffers. Justin Perpich, a political activist, has emerged as a prominent labor leader from the Iron Range. Next, Joe Radinovich, former state legislator, made a spirited run at a congressional seat and has made his mark in politics and government already with a bright future in Northern Minnesota politics.

Alex Schmidt, from the Twin Cities but now living in Dubrovnik, is the creator of the Mindful Mermaid blog, and has a growing Croatian-based specialized travel business. Alex's blog is a nuanced Croatian travel guide with all her cultural commentaries of life as a Croatian American living in Croatia and she's embracing her visions of international travel and diplomacy that she first created when in college at Loyola of Chicago. Tiffany Senkow is a PhD scientist student excelling with biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. She has an expertise on "Dupuytrens disease" which is a deformity of the hand. Tiffany still finds time to continue her love for kolo dance in Minnesota and which she first started in Pittsburgh as a child.

Siblings Katarina Crnogorac and Petar Crnogorac, have both been selected and have demonstrated consistent and very creative leadership with Croatian folklore and dance groups in New York City. Back in 2012, Petar and Katarina formed Folklorni Ansambl Okret. Since 2016, Petar and Katarina have been teaching and choreographing for the Croatian Folklore group, Hrvatska Ruza, in Astoria New York. On January 11th, 2019 their group had the honor of performing on the basketball court at Madison Square Garden during halftime at the NY Knicks first ever Croatian Heritage Night in honor of Mario Hezonja. Katerina has been very successful in the textile design world and is working on her own artistic endeavor, studioNARONA, which is a platform for everything related to and inspired by the Croatian culture. Petar is busy career-wise within the hotel and hospitality world with an eye on Croatian tourism and is working to create an online repository of traditional Croatian folk music.

Several winners are from California. After university Ante Zoric started to work for his parents' family business, Ann & Mario Catering. Currently Anthony manages the company which has been successful for over 18 years in the film industry and has catered for so many Croatian Consulate events and many Croatian weddings. His passion for sports continues as he writes for Croatiansports.com and also collects Croatian sports memorabilia. Dragana Boras, a proud MBA graduate from St. Mary's College (CA) has developed a marketing expertise in the Northern California-Silicon Valley area and still finds time to be very active with Croatian groups. Dragana was a recent co-manager of the very successful 2018 ACAP Conference in San Jose.

Ariana Kosta, has spent twenty plus years as a tambura player and first with the American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzan group, to Zalena Polja and then to Zumbercani Orchestra. She has been active in the Croatian folklore and the Croatian Fraternal Union her whole life!

There a few more honorees from the New York City area including Diane Kolanovic-Solaja, a Croatian activist for a long time in the area. She is the proud owner of Dee Kay Events and an accomplished wedding and event planner. Diane was a key co-founder of the New York- Croatian-LA group (NYCLA group) and creator of the amazing "Croatian cruise" for professionals. Anna Nejmasic, another activist from the Big Apple area, has been singing since age six and continues today at Croatian special events and with the Catholic Manhattan Church Choir. She now excels within the world class hotel industry with the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City and is active with several Croatian American groups.

0404193

Michelle Lucic, author at age fourteen

The Committee decided again with this program to honor two extraordinary activists who have yet to graduate from college, Andrew Ciraci and Michelle Lucic and who, at such a young age, have both demonstrated exceptional commitment to excellence in their academic careers and studies. First, Andrew Ciacci, is an honor student with extraordinary experience with the Model UN competition and with a congressional fellowship in Washington, DC and already is writing for the Claremont Journal of Law and policy and excelling at Claremont McKenna College in California. Andrew has his sights on law school next year and is a real Croatian national soccer team enthusiast. Next, Michelle Lucic is an amazing young woman from Cleveland Ohio who published a book on Bullying at age 14. She is a true Renaissance woman with success and passion for music, sports, academics and writing. Michelle is now studying in Germany on an academic scholarship and has big plans for the future and college soon. She has been active with St. Paul's Croatian Catholic Church in Cleveland.

The National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCA) is a non profit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to promoting the interest of the Croatian people and to enhance the relations between the United States and Croatia through educational advocacy, public policy and political projects and overall media relations. The NFCA is a national umbrella organization established in 1993 for the Croatian American community and the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU), Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP), the Croatian National Association (CNA) and twelve other metropolitan groups are active member groups.

For further information, please contact NFCA President Steve Rukavina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More diaspora news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

President Meets with Croatian Community in New York

ZAGREB, March 13, 2019 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has met with representatives of the Croatian community in New York, thanking them for preserving the Croatian community and presenting the best of Croatia in their new homeland, her office said in a press release on Wednesday morning.

She presented Charters of the Republic of Croatia to the Croatian Parish of Saints Cyril & Methodius and Saint Raphael, the Croatian Catholic Mission of the Blessed Ivan Merz and Croatian Radio New York for their contribution to maintaining and promoting ties between the Croatian community in the United States and Croatia.

Earlier in the day, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Women World Leaders from her Lithuanian counterpart Dalia Grybauskaite in New York on Tuesday, the President's Office said in a press release.

Grabar-Kitarović is currently in New York where she attended the UN conference "Women in Power" and met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday.

The Council of Women World Leaders was established in 1996 by Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the then President of Iceland, and Laura Liswood, the Council's Secretary General, to encourage present and former female heads of state or government and ministers to participate in joint activities of key importance to women.

Grabar-Kitarović said she would continue working on all issues concerning gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all her future activities.

The two presidents exchanged views on bilateral relations, common policies within the European Union and globally, and the position of women in high-level politics.

They said that Croatia and Lithuania have close bilateral relations, with shared interests and a desire to intensify their cooperation in areas such as defence and security.

Grabar-Kitarović said that the high level of friendly relations and the common interest in long-term partnership was confirmed by the appointments of their respective resident ambassadors in Zagreb and Vilnius.

More news about Croatia diaspora can be found in the dedicated section.

Page 4 of 9

Search