Saturday, 15 December 2018

Startups in Croatia: Estonian Entrepreneur Gives Croatia Advice

Entrepreneurs and startups in Croatia often have a difficult time getting things off the ground when starting with their business here, with the country's notoriously draining red tape and a usually slow and outdated approach to everything, launching a business, company, or startup in Croatia isn't a particularly attractive thought for most. Despite that, many startups in Croatia are seeing the arduous process through to the end, and are succeeding. 

Just what can Croatia and Croatian startups learn from the wildly successful TransferWise founder?

As Novac.hr/Jutarnji/Gordana Grgas writes on the 15th of December, 2018, because of his ''robbing'' of the earnings made by banks on their faithful customers' money, this Estonian entreprener is being referred to as a modern day Robin Hood.

The financial and tech startup that he founded with his partner back in 2011, TransferWise, was one of the most valuable in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and was built on the foundation of offering a cheap and fast money-sending service around the world with the help of a simple and handy mobile app. Already holding 0.5 percent of the global market, transferring about 4 billion dollars per month, and having four million users, it's not doing too badly, to say the very least.

The brain behind the genius idea which is rubbing the banks up the wrong way is Taavet Hinrikus, 37, an Estonian citizen, and this past week he was in Zagreb, because in the meantime, he has gone a step further and become a business angel, entering into the development process of the promising Croatian startup based in Osijek, Gideon Brothers, which deals with robotics and was founded by Matija Kopic and Milan Račić, who he says are a fantastic team.

While Novac.hr talked with the Estonian in the Katran club, where the first industrial robot made by Gideon Brothers had just been presented with great enthusiasm, the talented entrepreneur was asked about just how he earned the title of Robin Hood, Nottingham's famous outlaw who went down in history by robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Taavet responded with the fact that TransferWise ''returns'' the money to the people, which they would otherwise be forced give banks in hidden and sometimes very unfavourable exchange rate costs when it comes to international transfers.

"We've noticed that as a global problem and we've been able to find a ten-fold better solution for that than the existing ones," said Hinrikus, and this point was also the main ingredient of his ''recipe'' for business success in a lecture he had previously given to his young audience at the largest hall of the Zagreb Faculty of Electronics and Computing (FER). Among the students, all of whom are interested in startups in Croatia, were the minds behind the Gideon Brothers startup from Osijek.

''There's no better place in Croatia to start a technology company than FER,'' Kopić of Gideon Brothers told them.

And what exactly does Transferwise do so well to make it so popular and successful? The best description is probably the fact that it is the ''Skype for money transfers'', and they have succeeded in a world that has been, at least until now, ruled almost entirely by banks and their often unfair fees, these all-powerful banks have been ''wounded'' only by the likes of America's PayPal and Western Union, so far. They came to this business idea because they often sent money to Tallinn from London and were shocked and hindered when they'd see that they lose money each and every time.

''How we started is very simple. We're focused on applying new technology. And we're less greedy,'' said Hinrikus, adding that there's no real reason why sending money electronically should actually be expensive.

They're even anything from five to ten times cheaper than PayPal. Since last year, their services have also been made available in Croatia, and they are currently focusing on the further expansion of their business platform, and further remuneration for cash transfers. They currently employ about 1,300 people, several hundred of them are in Estonia, where both founders are themselves from.

Their success was initially driven by marketing, and they were rebellious against the "evil banks in London", as was recalled by Ivo Špigel, a Zagreb entrepreneur and the founder of Perpetuum Mobile.

Hinrikus's acquaintance with Matija Kopić from Osijek, who also also presented his own startup at the same London event, has gone from strength to strength. Both then won over investor interest with their performances and ideas.

Should Croatia dream of being like Estonia? Novac.hr asked Hinrikus.

''Of course you should. You need a government that appreciates the importance of technology, a government which thinks about how to make the government more efficient itself, and better for citizens with the help of technology,'' responded Estonia's answer to Robin Hood.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more information on startups in Croatia, doing business in Croatia, Croatian companies, products and services, and the business and investment climate.

 

Click here for the original article by Gordana Grgas for Novac.hr/Jutarnji

Friday, 14 December 2018

Driving in Zagreb: Traffic Chaos to Follow Roundabout Closure?

Driving in Zagreb comes with both ease and difficulties, unlike the along the coast, the time of year rarely causes issues when it comes to traffic in Zagreb, but Mayor Milan Bandić's timing for major roadworks often does.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of December, 2018, after having been delayed multiple times, the closing of the huge Zagreb roundabout has now been announced for this coming Sunday, December the 16th, 2018, as has another important event, a sporting one.

On Sunday, December the 16th, the Zagreb Advent Run will take place in the Croatian capital, and driving in Zagreb will become more problematic as the new traffic changes will come into force.

Isidor Kršnjavi street (Ulica Isidora Kršnjavog), where the start of the race will be, will be closed for all traffic from 08:00 to 12:30 on the aforementioned date.

The rest of the routes being used within the scope of the Zagreb Advent Run will begin being closed off by local police several minutes before the start of the race at 10:00 and will remain closed until 12:30.

Sunday will also bring problems owing to the Dinamo Zagreb - Hajduk Split match, which traditionally brings with it major traffic jams, at 15:00.

Make sure to follow our dedicated news page for more information on traffic and driving in Zagreb, as well as in the rest of the country. If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, stay up to date with everything you need to know about what's going on in the Croatian capital city by following Total Zagreb.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Croatia and the Eurozone: Next Two Years Crucial for Adaptation

Unlike the United Kingdom, which used an opt-out, one of Croatia's obligations upon joining the European Union was the eventual introduction of the euro as the country's main currency. While many are against the plan, it will go forward regardless. Erste's main man has warned that Croatia's time to adapt properly to the imminent change is slowly slipping away, and the cooling of the global economy is expected. How will the relationship between Croatia and the Eurozone progress?

As Tomislav Pili/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, even though the banks are expected to experience falling revenue due to the loss of currency trading, Croatia's eventual entry into the Eurozone is likely to bring a lot of benefits to Croatian society, said Erste Bank's CEO Christoph Schöfböck on Tuesday. The statement comes among continued mixed feelings from the public on Croatia and the Eurozone.

"The path towards the euro can't be a purpose for itself [a self-serving purpose], it must have a reason, and that's the prosperity of society," Schöfböck stated. Reflecting on developments in the global economy, Erste Bank's main man stressed that the world economy would "cool down" in two years, so Croatia must use that time for economic adjustment to finally enter into the Eurozone. As for movement on the domestic economic plan, this year Croatia can expect GDP growth between 2.5 and 2.8 percent, according to the director of economic research, Alen Kovač.

"We're growing at a faster rate than the European Union, but also slower than comparable countries," he stressed. Concerning the next year, it is estimated that the positive features of the Croatian economy will remain as they are, such as the further growth in the inflow of money from European funds, investment growth and personal consumption. However, in 2019, the risks that come from abroad - the trade war, Brexit and the issue of the Italian deficit - will be more pronounced. Therefore, next year the growth of the Croatian economy will slow down and will reach between 2.5 and 2.6 percent.

In addition to presenting macroeconomic forecasts, Erste Bank also used this opportunity to launch its new payment application, KEKS Pay. The application is the result of the internal startup of the bank and is described as "the first real digital wallet in Croatia". It serves to transfer money to friends or family's accounts, regardless of which banks they respectively use, and also allows for the collection of money from within a chat group. It functions as a "financial Whatsapp", so it's not necessary to open an account to transfer money, only the recipient's mobile number is required. Use of the application is completely free, as is initially downloading it.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and politics pages for more information on Croatia and the Eurozone, the domestic political scene, doing business in Croatia, and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Tomislav Pili for Poslovni Dnevnik

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Croatian Demographic Picture: Cash for Birth in Least Populated Municipality

There can be no denying that Croatia's overall demographic picture is grim. An astonishing amount of people have left, mainly since the country's accession to the European Union, when borders ''opened'' and life was made easier for those seeking opportunities abroad, but also since before then. With an enormous number of Croats having fled the country, mainly from the overlooked continental and eastern areas, the already poor Croatian demographic picture is growing more and more bleak.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, over the last six or seven years, all the first graders from the entire territory of the Levanjska Varoš municipality, with its 136 square kilometres, in which there are just nine settlements, will sit behind just three school desks, according to a depressing report on Croatia's continually worsening demographic crisis by Glas Slavonije.

The small number of children born in this part of Osijek-Baranja County this year offers no hope for this municipality, at least at the moment, and with very little room for optimism in expectations of its demographic recovery, other measures are being sought.

Cash for every birth is an incentive for many, as the aforementioned area is one of the least populated areas, the first association of which is one of ​​poor development, a small population, and one of the areas in the whole of the Republic of Croatia which is the most in need.

In Levanjska Varoš, there are currently less than 6.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. The last census, which was carried out back in 2011, stated that there are 1,250 inhabitants, but, according to the mayor Slavko Tidlačka, for a long time now there have been less than 1,000, about 950 people who live in one of the nine settlements.

Like the poor Croatian demographic picture in general, the prospects for many local villages in this area, as well as across the country as a whole, with a little more ''leg room'' in some areas, are still extremely bad.

Until recently, this municipality has been awarding parents a sum of 1,000 kuna for each newborn child, but now that amount has been significantly boosted. Last year's decision on the right to financial compensation for newborn children in the area was passed. According to the details of that move, parents are paid 2,000 kuna for their first and second child, 5,000 kuna for a third, and for the fourth and then every next child, as much as 10,000 kuna.

Make sure to follow our lifestyle page for more information on the poor demographic image in Croatia and much more.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Americans Approve Sale of Israeli Aircraft to Croatia

After some controversy and a lot of back and forth by all involved parties, it seems the situation with the Israeli aircraft being sold to Croatia has been resolved.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 12th of December, 2018, the competent state department has sent its notification to the Congress in regard to the transfer of the Israeli F-16 aircraft to a third party, ie, to the Republic of Croatia.

As N1 reports from the US Embassy in Zagreb on December the 11th, 2018, the US Department of State has now formally informed Congress of this particular case, which now has a fifteen-day deadline for consent under the US Arms Export Control Act.

Although certain details do still need to be resolved, the State Department has expressed its hopes that cooperation of all the involved parties will lead to a final and successful resolution of the problem.

The process is that the US must approve arms sales to its partners through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. As part of the process of making sales to foreign countries, buyers must agree to seek written approval from the US Government prior to any changes, modifications, or any further sale of military equipment to a third country or buyer.

Over the last few decades, the United States has approved thousands of such requests for the so-called ''Third Party Transfer (TPT)'', which refers to all of the sales of ammunition. Such military equipment resale is treated transparently, in accordance with the interests of US foreign policy, with a view to protecting the integrity of the armaments system. As part of this process, the TPT request may encourage further consideration in Congress if the value of the military equipment in question at the time exceeds a certain amount.

Upon approval of such a request, the United States usually requests that its partners ensure the military equipment purchased from the US or through another military aid program is returned to its original state or that any additions are removed from it. In addition, the United States often cooperates with the original buyer country to ensure that the military equipment is readily prepared by properly authorised persons before further sale.

Although the US government does not generally comment on the goals and intentions of its allies in the procurement of military equipment, we can say that in the wider sense, the US strongly supports Croatia's efforts as a NATO member in its modernisation plans, including in terms of the purchase of the Israeli F-16 aircraft, over which there has been much ado.

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

 

Click here for the original article by N1 info

Friday, 7 December 2018

Is America Blocking Sale of Israeli F-16's to Croatia?

A new twist in the Israeli F-16 story as the original author of a text published on the Axios website argues that he has received information from Israeli officials that Trump's administration is blocking Croatia's purchase of Israeli F-16 military aircraft.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of December, 2018, the Axios portal has reported that America's Trump administration is going to block the Croatian purchase of Israel's F-16 military aircraft, Večernji list writes.

According to the text published on the Axios website, US officials allegedly claimed that Israel was being dishonest and was attempting to make money on America's account. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu allegedly discussed this issue with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday, where he told him that he wasn't opposed to the sale, but that it was apparently being blocked by US Defense Minister James Mattis.

To briefly explain, the US must give Israel permission to sell its aircraft to a third country, which is what Croatia is. Allegedly, the Trump administration is angry because the Israelis have upgraded their old planes with modern Israeli technology in order to persuade Croatia to buy their aircraft rather than American ones. The Americans are arguing that Israel cannot sell its aircraft without their consent, and especially not in a bid in which the US was competing.

Here at home at the Croatian Defense Ministry, which has been met with raise eyebrows for weeks in regard to the signing of this contract, confirms that Croatia, neither guilty or in the wrong, has been stuck in the midst of lobbying and conflict between the US and Israeli administrations.

The aforementioned Ministry allegedly doesn't believe that the problem is being caused by Minister Mattis, who, in the beginning, was very much in favour of such a Croatian-Israeli agreement and was fully aware that Croatia is not in the financial position to take on the acquisition of the newest US F-16 aircraft block 70/72, which was initially offered by the Lockheed Martin manufacturer in the international tender, reports Večernji list.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated politics and business pages for more.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Croatian Market: Plodine Interested in Purchasing Konzum?

Ever since the Agrokor crisis threatened to sink the domestic economy, the Croatian market has been a rocky one, but despite that, Konzum is back on its feet and is even attracting purchasing potential.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 7th of December, 2018, Milo Ćurković, the owner and CEO of the popular shopping chain, Plodine, said that although he doesn't believe we that Plodine are the only interested party, he believes that they would be the most ready to take over Konzum.

In terms of revenue and income, Plodine is by far largest company in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, and when it comes to the top-list of retail chains in Croatia, they're in third place, with a share of between 10 and 20 percent, just like both Lidl and Kaufland, while the almighty Konzum is still gripping onto first place, according to a report from Novi list.

"The crisis in Agrokor was dangerous for the entire economy, however, everything was fine in the sense that the taxpayers didn't have to bear the consequences of it, and that's what is most important," said Ćurković for Novi list, revealing that Plodine is very much interested in purchasing Konzum.

''We absolutely are. The question is, of course, what the [Agrokor's] new owners will do. The new owners are bankers, creditors, and my estimate is that for the bank, this isn't their main business, so, as soon as the company is consolidated, they'll sell that part of the business, which we're ready for and want. I think the entire consolidation process will last two to three years, and we'll be further prepared in that period so that we're fully prepared for that potential acquisition at the right time. This will be the most interesting acquisition for all of us in this sector.

We're waiting to see how the situation in Agrokor will turn out. I don't believe that we're the only ones interested [in purchasing Konzum], but I believe that we're the most ready for the takeover of Konzum. This isn't just about finances. You have to be ready for personnel, organisational, logistical matters, and we've fulfilled those conditions,'' said Ćurković, adding that anyone who succeeds in buying Konzum will definitely be the main player on the Croatian retail market and that nobody would be able to do better.

"Our goal is to be the main player on the Croatian market," concluded Ćurković.

Make sure to stay up to date on the Croatian market, doing business in Croatia, and the domestic business and investment climate by following our dedicated business page.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Driving in Croatia: Zagreb Police Announce Another Action

Driving in Croatia is always a pleasure. From the famously smooth roads, even in the most rugged and mountainous areas, to taking in the truly diverse scenery the country has to offer from coast to continent, a road trip through Croatia is undoubtedly a must do when spending any length of time here.

Despite the joy of driving on such perfect roads and enjoying the incredible bio-diversity of the land, winter is well and truly on its way and along with freezing temperatures and snow, it intends to bring some hefty fines and a stronger police presence across the country.

The police have already announced a few new sets of high fines and multiple actions in which the ''hunt'' will be on for those not wearing seat belts or using their phones while driving, and the Zagreb police are upping their game once again as the cold begins to bite in continental Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of December, 2018, in the area governed by the Zagreb police administration, a preventative action is set to take place. The Zagreb police announced that the action will be implemented this weekend.

From the 7th to the 10th of December, Zagreb police officers will carry out a preventive action directed at enhanced vehicle and driver supervision, the general aim of which is to prevent and sanction the most serious violations, known commonly all over the world as the four major killers on the road.

These offenses are alcohol consumption while driving, speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and the improper use of mobile phones and similar devices, as well as an array of other offenses which frequently contribute to the occurrence and the often tragic consequences of most traffic accidents.

Make sure to stay up to date with our news page for more. If it's just Zagreb you're interested in, make sure to follow Total Zagreb for everything going on in the Croatian capital city.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Ryanair Announces Flights to Split and Dubrovnik, Both Airports Clueless?

As Ryanair announces flights to Split and Dubrovnik, it appears that neither destination airport got the memo.

As we reported recently, the largest European low-cost airline, Ryanair, announced that it will launch flights from Dublin to Split and Dubrovnik as of next summer, but it seems nobody at either Split or Dubrovnik airport knows much about it.

As Josip Bohutinski/VL/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of December, 2018, more strangely still, Ireland's popular Ryanair has already begun selling tickets for these flights which will commence on June the 1st, and be in operation until the 25th and 26th of October, 2019, starting at just 9.99 euros.

"Ryanair is pleased to announce the introduction of its new route from Dublin to Dubrovnik and Split, which will operate twice a week from June," Robin Kiely of Ryanair said.

Vincent Harrison, the director of Dublin Airport, said that he was glad to hear that Ryanair was expanding its route network by adding Dubrovnik and Split. Depite this, the director of Split Airport, Lukša Novak, says he cannot confirm that these flights will be realised at all.

Josip Paljetak from Dubrovnik Airport has said that they have had no official information from Ryanair at all. He pointed out that the company hasn't even contacted the airport this year.

"We were very surprised to see that they'd announced flights from Dublin, and it's very strange that they've started selling tickets for flights which they never agreed upon with the airport. We don't even know if we can accept their planes for when they say they want the flights,'' Paljetak said.

In Croatia, Ryanair already flies to Zadar, Rijeka, and Pula.

Ryanair offered no response when requested to explain the announcement of their 2019 summer flights to Split and Dubrovnik.

Make sure to stay up to date with our news and travel pages for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Josip Bohutinski/VL on Poslovni Dnevnik

Monday, 3 December 2018

Shopping in Croatia: New Retail Chain Looks for Workers

A new retail chain is coming to from Italy and offering a wealth of new possibilities for shopping in Croatia. Eurospin is a discount store with enviable revenue and income, and it is bringing job openings with it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of December, 2018, not so long ago, Germany's Hofer attempted to take to the Croatian market, announcing its opening in the western part of Zagreb and its surroundings, even going as far as to recruit workers, and then, without explanation, it withdrew.

With regard to ads on social networks in both Zagreb and Rijeka seeking workers, construction land, commercial property with parking in cities with more than 10,000 people living there, the question is when will the Croatian market become richer for another major international trade chain - Eurospin.

As Vecernji list writes, Eurospin is a classic Italian discount store with more than 1,000 stores across Italy and 80 in neighbouring Slovenia, boasting about 7,000 workers, record revenues of 4.7 billion euro and an income of 184 million euro in 2017.

While this is far from the leading ten players in Europe, among which the Schwarz group is the frontrunner with both Lidl and Kaufland in the same portfolio, when it comes to the Croatian market, in which the top ten of the total 38.7 percent of total retail revenues continues to hold more than 80 percent of the market share, the Eurospin concept such as PennyMarket, Aldi, or Hofer is certainly significant when it comes to shopping in Croatia.

Specialising in the discounted sale of food products and daily shopping, Eurospin differs from other competitors in Europe by selling its brands exclusively. There are no classic brands found in other chains in these stores, only those that this retail chain's team plotted through its very own network of carefully selected partners.

The company has adjusted the format of its products in accordance with the taste and traditions of the individual markets, as Lidl is doing today, and this formula proved to be a winning one, first in Italy, and then in neighbouring Slovenia.

Back in 2000, they were the first in Italy in this segment by the number of sales points, turnover, and number of customers, they now want to become the most significant in Europe.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for information on doing business, retail, and shopping in Croatia and much more.

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