Sunday, 24 February 2019

''To Defend Croatian Justice System Today is Mission Impossible''

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 22nd of February, 2019, defending the Croatian justice system today is mission impossible. Mario Vukelić, the president of the High Commercial Court, who took part in the panel entitled "Legal security - the guarantor of investment'' which was held in the framework of the InvestCro conference in Zagreb.

"And at this conference, we've heard the word perception many times, so how we perceive something, and not necessarily how things actually stand. The perception of an inefficient justice systemis a fact from which conclusions are drawn.

The theory that Croatia has the most unresolved cases in the EU, as well as the highest amount of judges, of course in both cases per capita, it's also a fact that Croatia is the first in the EU on inflow of new cases to the courts, but if we look at the duration of the average dispute, then we come in 12th place out of 28 EU member states,'' said Vukelić. He added that many long-standing disputes at commercial courts in the Republic of Croatia are actually caused by the economic crisis.

"Big and successful companies are seldom judged because that is costly and carries on for a long time, they simply agree and reconcile, either directly or through a mediator. The problem with us is that we have no money, companies are often aware of the facts on which they're being judged, but they don't given the fact that they have the money, they buy time through long-lasting court disputes,'' said Vukelić.

Tatjana Josipović, a professor at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb, emphasised the fact that the Croatian justice system is highly segmented and that there is a very large number of mutually overlapping legal regulations.

"Before adopting a new law, simulations should be carried out to see how it would actually function in reality. A concrete example is the new Enforcement law, about which it's hard to say whether it will work, and how it will work in reality. In terms of investment, it's imperative to sort out the land register as without that, we won't have bigger investments, we're making progress as the 800-day deadline is now 25 days, but the problem is the unresolved property and legal relationships. We have successfully completed the legalisation project, but legalisation doesn't mean that these ojects could be entered into the land registry because we don't have clear ownership relationships. We have to face these problems and solve them, and not just sweep the problems under the carpet, and then go on upgrading because we'll end up meeting back up with these problems sooner or later,'' said Josipović.

Mićo Ljubenko, a lawyer in the law firm Ljubenko & Partners, doesn't agree that the slowness of the Croatian courts is the biggest problem facing the Croatian justice system.

"Are there really any examples that serious companies operating in Slovenia and Hungary aren't also operating in Croatia? No, we don't. Serious investors approach their problems correctly, and they get their problems sorted out. Whether or not the deadline for registering a company is five days, as it is in Serbia, or 21 days as it is in Croatia is completely irrelevant to any investor, it's another thing if the papers aren't done properly and the situation isn't clear,'' concluded Ljubenko.

Make sure to stay up to date on news on the Croatian justice system and much more by following our dedicated politics and business pages.


Click here for the original article by Darko Bicak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Croatia's Bureaucracy and Slow Legal System Hampering Investment

What can Croatia do to up its currently extremely poor investment game? With non-EU countries like Macedonia and Serbia, which are typically considered to be less developed than Croatia, making things far easier for entrepreneurs than Croatia, and our neighbour to the north, Slovenia, pulling huge sums of cash for investment from Europe, just where is Croatia going wrong?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes on the 22nd of February, 2019, Croatia has one of the most incentive boosting legal frameworks for investment in Europe, which is openly recognised by everyone in the EU, but there is a problem in implementing these investments, as there is in the projected image of Croatia as a tourist destination rather than an investment destination. This was stated at the opening of the recent conference " InvestCro - Is Croatia Ready for New Investments'' which was organised in Zagreb, it is held as a year-round multimedia project jointly organised by Poslovni Dnevnik, Večernji list and 24sata.

Darko Horvat, Minister of Economy, addressed the conference:

"Everyone sitting here today has the same desire: If we can't make Croatia more desirable for investments, we at least should become aware that we're not that bad either. We have to work on our own confidence, because if we don't believe in ourselves, how will those who come here to invest feel when they encounter problems. It's especially important that people from the field - mayors and entrepreneurs, who can share the problems they encounter on a daily basis - also participate in the conference.

When you analyse today's renowned global and Croatian TV stations, portals, newspapers... you'll see that Croatia is a country offering the sun and the sea. To sum up how much Croatia has invested into being recognised as a tourist destination, it's clear why we're not seen as an investment Mecca. We don't have any marketing that would allow investors to see and recognise our country as being desirable for investment.

Our only "marketing" is a negative one through investors who did come to Croatia and haven't managed to succeed, and are talking about that abroad. Those who succeeded and didn't encounter any serious problems, and that's the majority, are generally silent and just do their work because nobody else asks them anything,'' Horvat said.

He added that the huge problem Croatia has is that during the accession period for EU membership, negotiations were carried out and the EU's laws were taken on without question, and they weren't "localised'' through the implementing of acts, which is why the bureaucracy and the judiciary system are so slow and dysfunctional today.

"Now that we're a full member [of the EU], we have to work harder to purge the regulatory framework that hampers us and prevents us from developing. With all the problems we have, Croatia has been growing steadily by 2-3 percent, but the problem is that those around us are growing 2-3 times faster than we are. Therefore, we must implement processes that will accelerate investment and the ease of doing business. When it comes to opening a company, we have seven steps and the whole process for the company to start doing business lasts longer than 30-40 days, although the registration itself lasts just fifteen minutes. We must take for example Estonia or Macedonia, which are at the top of the competitiveness ladder, and not be 150 places behind,'' noted Minister Horvat.

He also pointed out that the issue of the speed of issuing building permits is the biggest problem in big cities, primarily in Zagreb.

"Things are happening and they just need to be promoted. If the Slovenes have managed to attract 14 billion euros in investment from Western Europe, and we've only had 3.8 billion, then it's clear to see that we have some serious problems," said Minister Darko Horvat.

Zdenko Adrović, Director of the Croatian Association of Banks (HUB), highlighted the importance of public debate on the challenges of investing in Croatia.

"The aim of this project is to open up a series of investment issues in Croatia, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of HUB, and this year we want to stimulate the discussion about investments and the role of the banking sector in it. The IMF concluded that there is a need to alleviate bureaucratic obstacles and that would be very welcome, as would providing stronger legal certainty involving a fast and efficient justice system. Without a proper justice system there's little hope in expecting any sort of investment wave, we're not even among the top thirty [countries for investment]. A very well-known British business paper recently concluded that the sun and the sea  aren't enough,'' Adrović warned.

He also added that the establishment of a company in Croatia lasts several times longer than it does in our immediate neighborhood, including in countries like Serbia and Macedonia, both of which are outside of the EU, and which we usually consider to be considerably less developed than Croatia. Vladimir Nišević, editor-in-chief of Poslovni Dnevnik, stressed the importance of the media in promoting important social values, and Croatia's investment climate is certainly one of them.

"Without healthy investment and economic development there will be no other social advances such as curricular reform and the like, although the current Uljanik problem is one of the burning issues of the Croatian economy and society, it's much more important to look at how our country and our society will look in twenty years,'' Nišević rightly concluded.

Make sure to stay up to date with news on Croatia's investment and business climate and everything you need to know by following our dedicated business and politics pages.


Click here for the original article by Darko Bicak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Investment in Croatia - More Legal Security Attracts Foreign Cash

Investment in Croatia is at an all time low. With the phrase ''ABC'' having become the term for ''Anything But Croatia'' in investor circles, the country needs to do some serious work in order to redeem itself. In order for Croatia to become much more attractive to foreign strategic investors, more concrete and clear steps need to be taken, and high on the agenda lie the proper preparation of public finances and more legal security.

As Ana Blaskovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of February, 2019, despite dramatic headlines, the economy is growing and Croatia's level of public debt is falling. It is commonly forgotten that Croatia is growing at a pace below three percent - the slowest of all. Neighbouring Slovenia experienced 4.9 percent GDP growth, Hungary experienced growth of 4.1 percent, and Bulgaria saw 3.8 percent growth. There's no such great wisdom to be spoken of in Croatia's case here, the economy will grow as much as it has, or is given, the power to do so, and its momentum is the only thing that can make Croatia look much more friendly to investors, a move it desperately needs to make.

Even if there was a real willingness and the capacity for proper reforms existed, which are both evidently lacking, the key question is what moves should be made first to garner the fastest results in terms of investment in Croatia.

In that regard, there are no real dilemmas in the mind of respected economist Velimir Šonje, and what needs to be ensured are business climate reforms which include the Doing Business Report of the World Bank's recommendations for Croatia.

"By moving to around number 30 on the Doing Business Report, we've entered the club of countries like Poland, we're visible on the Eastern European map (which isn't the case today) and we have a marketing tool to attract investors," said Šonje, adding that these concrete measures would have a direct impact on Croatia's ability to properly facilitate business and investment, such as issuing building permits or reducing the number of steps required when paying taxes.

At the very top of the Croatian Government's priorities lies the transparent privatisation of state-owned companies through their listing on the stock market within the wider revitalisation plan of the capital market in order to better stimulate foreign investment in Croatia.

"It's no accident that investments are at a relatively low level since the capital market has died in Croatia. Without its revival through several major privatisations and listing and strengthening programs to attract medium-sized businesses in some of the simpler stock quotes, there will be no better investments, as capital market development has positive spill-over effects and attracts the interest of foreign investors,'' stated the esteemed economist.

Following the liberalisation of the internal market, the strengthening of the protection of equal market competition (so that there are no already protected existing players), the transparency of public procurement and the abolition of parafiscal charges and other obstacles to strengthening competition, especially in the service sectors where there are significant area of potential such as the health, education and IT industries,''

When it comes to better attracting investment in Croatia, the proper and decent handling of public finances also ranks very high on the list of consultant Andrej Grubišić from Grubišić and partners, with a very specific goal.

"It's necessary to reduce government spending, ie, a 30 billion kuna budget over a five-year period, and thus leave more money to a private initiative that will drive the development of small and medium-sized enterprises for their own economic interests (independently and without the help of the state),'' said Grubišić. This would become more attractive for investment by foreign strategic investors through takeovers and/or recapitalisations through which intensified internationalisation would continue.

The hope is that the state will cease their classic style of favouring particular sectors or industries, such as IT or renewable energy sources, as this approach almost always promotes unwanted crony capitalism. Moreover, treating everyone in the same way is a clear signal to a foreign investor that he does not have to fear that his industry will be considered less desirable tomorrow and lose his privileged status to someone else who is deemed closer to the wishes of the political elites and those who are better lobbied.

In this context, there is a real need for adequate judicial protection. In the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), the emphasis is placed on attracting investors to production and opening up an investment space that would be geared towards the design of high value added products, investments in research, and in development and exports.

"We need to create a business climate that will stimulate domestic entrepreneurs, thus creating the conditions for the stronger engagement of foreign entrepreneurs and investments in Croatia," stated HGK's Luka Burilović.

He added that entrepreneurs have the most objections in the area of ​​legal certainty, justice, taxation and public administration.

"Here we can take the appropriate concrete measures that could immediately show results. Investors are becoming more demanding, they're looking for solutions, not just locations. One of the options for a change of approach is to put the focus on Croatia's "portfolio", and not on the entire territory,'' Burilović stated.

When asked how Croatia will look in the eyes of an investor, the answer remains very the same according to Burilović: "We're relatively unknown to investors, we don't have a brand built, and we're mostly recognised as a tourist destination,''

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated business and politics pages for much more on investment in Croatia.


Click here for the original article by Ana Blaskovic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Investment in Croatia: 80 Million Kuna Allocated to Ports

More investment in Croatia and some very welcome news for fishing ports up and down the Croatian coast in several counties as valuable contracts worth a massive eighty million kuna are signed by Oleg Butković, the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure.

As Morski writes on the 20th of February, 2019, on Wednesday the 20th of February, Croatia's Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure signed binding agreements and contracts for the allocation of state budget funds for the construction, repair, and reconstruction of various facilities in ports which are open to public traffic, marking a praiseworthy investment in Croatia.

The ports, which are located in seven different coastal Croatian counties are considered to be of importance at both the county and local level, and their upcoming modernisation, reconstruction and construction will take place as part of the construction of fishing infrastructure this year.

The contracts will be signed by the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, and the directors of the port administrations Rabac, Crikvenica, Rab, Bakar-Kraljevica-Kostrena, Novi Vinodolski, Novalja, Senj, Zadar, Korčula and Vela Luka, as well as the port authorities of Šibenik-Knin County, Split-Dalmatia County, and Dalmatia's southernmost county - Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

Through the signing of these contracts and agreements, a huge total of eighty million kuna will be allocated to 25 infrastructure projects in as many as seven Adriatic counties in a massive investment in Croatia and its long and impressive coastline, not only in popular Dalmatia, which relies heavily on ports and their infrastructure.

With the allocation of these state budget funds, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs Transport and Infrastructure is continuing to go forward with its previously started investments in the field of the development and modernisation of port infrastructure on Croatian islands, as well as in coastal [mainland] areas, the competent ministry said in a statement on the matter.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know about investment in Croatia by following our dedicated lifestyle and business pages. If you've clicked on this article for sailing info, give our Total Croatia Sailing and travel pages a follow.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Zagreb and Poreč to Get Large New Shopping Outlets in 2019

Good news for retail therapy lovers and job seekers alike as both Zagreb and the Istrian city of Poreč are due to get new big shopping centres and a wave of new employment opportunities that go with it.

As Korana Sutlic/Barbara Ban/Novac writes on the 2nd of February, 2019, the current plan for Poreč's up and coming brand new outlet is to have it completed entirely by this summer, it will be located at the entrance to the popular Istrian city. It will be the first such shopping centre in the second largest city in Istria to accommodate shops such as BIPA, C & A, CCC, Deichmann, Galileo, Hervis, Müller, New Yorker, Tedi and Svijet Media.

The investor and owner of the project is the company AM PS Delta Nekretnine d.o.o., which has already built a shopping center in Pula - Pula City Mall. Otherwise, the company AM PS Delta Real Estate Ltd., a member of the Croatian subsidiary of MID Bau Real Estate Ltd., is one of the leading developers on the domestic market, and along with the Pula project, they so far have realised the Garden Mall project in Zagreb, TC Koprivnica, STC Osijek, STC Sisak , STC Valpovo, and STC Umag.

''Works began several months ago, and the completion is scheduled for June this year. Poreč will get its well-deserved shopping and entertainment centre, conceptually conceived as a retail park, and every store will have its own entrance. The retail area of ​​the centre will be around 8,379 square metres in size, which will also make it the largest shopping center in Poreč, and in just a few days the final version of its layout will be known,'' they say from Poreč's city administration upon welcoming this large investment.

Along with the new shopping centre, new jobs will of course come as part of the greater package, which is naturally a more than welcome move for the local economy.

Projects in Zagreb

In addition, this June will see a brand new retail park open at the western part of the Arena Center in Zagreb, on a surface of 8,000 square metres, the content of which will mainly be shops which need large spaces. In the Zagreb district of Špansko, a brand new Z centre will be constructed, which will result in an impressive 60,000 square metre shopping centre, along with stand-alone facilities - McDonald's and Lidl.

The new Zagreb retail centre will boast a square, a multiplex cinema, as well as numerous shops, cafes and restaurants. The completion of Zagreb's Z centre's construction is planned for the end of this year. The completion of the reconstruction of Branimir Centre is also expected this spring.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated lifestyle and business pages for much more. If it's just Zagreb you're interest in, give Total Zagreb a follow.


Click here for the original article by Korana Sutlic and Barbara Ban for

Friday, 25 January 2019

Croatian Entrepreneur Reveals Jokes Being Told About Croatia Abroad

''They're already telling jokes about Croatia abroad,'' says Croatian entrepreneur Stjepan Bedić, who took to Facebook to detail his experience with some Libyan investors.

As writes on the 23rd of January, 2019, pilot, entrepreneur and aeronautical engineer Stjepan Bedić, who is otherwise the director of BEST Aero and the leader of the Team Stellar project, one of sixteen teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, wrote on Facebook just how Croatia is treating potential investors willing to bring millions into the country, and uncovered out what exactly this damage does to the trust of would-be investors. He says that foreign investors are already busy telling jokes about Croatia and its insane, ridiculous ways.

The ambitious Croatian entrepreneur and his associates are stuck in, as he says, "an administrative machine and a situation that not even Monty Python would be able to think up."

Here's his post translated into English:

"So, we had some investors come over from Libya last year. There was a 3.5 million dollar investment agreed upon. They got their visas, they came to Croatia, they paid 180,000 dollars for all the initial administration, they enrolled as co-owners of the firm at the commercial court. Their visas expired, they left with the intention of returning, and paying the remaining 3.3 million dollars to start up the airline.

Croatia denied them their visas. Pay attention now, Croatia denied their visas after they'd already been in Croatia a month ago, paid over a million kuna and so on. They submitted a request again, and once again Croatia refused their visas, I, as the director of the firm and the signatory of the letter of guarantee, have no right to know why [they were refused their visas], even though I did learn off the record that they weren't criminals, but that they'd got caught up somewhere in the administration machine.

I wrote to the president!

I wrote to the president, and from her office they were looking for a report from MVEP. The report was full of citations from regulations on issuing visas, how to complain about solutions, and stuff like that.

Here's my answer to them, CC'd also to the president's office:

To whom it may concern,

Thanks for the the detailed e-mail with quoted regulations and a detailed description on issuing visas.

I agree with everything written.

The investors simply no longer want to invest in Croatia. 

It's simply because of one other thing, and because of that, as a country, we're known as a place where no investment should ever be made. The other day I had the chance to talk to the Katra royal family, who also told me they didn't want to ever invest in Croatia again. I talked to one other investor about Libya, when it was in a warlike state, split with two governments, and that was of more interest for investing in than Croatia. Can you believe that?

Abroad, people are already telling jokes about Croatia. Do you know what ABC means in colloquial investor talk? "Anything But Croatia."

I absolutely agree that all of the regulations, both ours and those of the EU, have to be respected. The question is how we do it. And we do it in a disastrous way.

Can it be more efficient?

When talking about all of the quoted regulations that you've enclosed and used as some sort of excuse for such awful results, the reality is that these people were in Croatia in mid-2018, they invested over one million kuna, were entered into the commercial court as co-owners of a company. How was their visa issued? What changed over those months? After investing a part of the money, they were refused a visa twice, and now we've missed out on a 3 million dollar investment. That's your reality. Would it have been possible for all these regulations to have been implemented in a more efficient way?

I'd say that it could be possible. And here are some examples of why:

1. A hotel reservation has expired. After repeated inquiries to find out which date to reserve the hotel, we don't get any information.

If a company, of which I'm the director, and they're the majority owners, books a hotel and, after all, I sign a guarantee letter, are we really violating the privacy of these citizens if you tell me which date to reserve the hotel? The first reservation was lost because the visa wasn't completed. The reservation costs 3,500 euros and I can't just keep booking every day and then cancelling reservations. Is that really so difficult to understand? What's the problem in just writing a sentence, or, in answering the phone: "Reserve new flight tickets and a hotel for 15.12.2018"?

2. Is it normal for your representative in Cairo to say that for a visa with multiple entries allowed, advance planning for a flight ticket and a hotel is needed? How on earth can people know when each time they're going to come and go for the first six months will be?

3. Is it normal for your Cairo representative to say that they can't add additional documents to the case?

4. Is it normal for your representative in Cairo to just not bother to deliver a resolution after a number of requests from the person who submitted the request, who has received no reason as to why the visa was denied?

What exactly is the issue here? The solution? You've wonderfully described the appeal process all the way to the Pope in Rome, but what does any of that mean when they have not officially received anything at all?

I understand all about Libya and that it's a country with an increased risk, but they continue to do business and they have a lot of money.

For your information, thanks to this, the talks with the Brodotrogir shipyard fell apart, and they were looking to us to sort out meetings with INA because they offered cheap crude oil, as well as Podravka about food exports to Libya. I didn't agree to carry out these two last meetings given the fact that it was obvious they weren't going to come to Croatia. I already took them to see the plot for a hotel with 300 rooms in Zagreb.

Now pay attention to this situation that not even Monty Python could think up. They entered the firm as co-owners, the firm has 180,000 dollars, or a million kuna. Another 3.3 million dollars should have come, but it will not come. They can't even get out of the company's ownership because, in order to do so, they need to go to the same notary with whom they were with a month before, when they had a visa, AGAIN.

And now I'm opening a new company in order to seek other investors, and only God knows what I'm going to do with BEST Aero d.o.o. where a million kuna is lying there for no reason, where the investors and co-owners can't even come to Croatia, where they can't undertake any recapitalisation or do anything at all but show up as debt.

On the other hand, if they were granted the same visas they had until mid-September 2018 AGAIN, they'd now have a company with fifty employees and two 189-seat passenger planes.

Now, you see whether or not something can be done and whether this email is correct or not.

Only you doing everything "by the book" dig deeper and deeper, while others use the situation and are progressing. Your ambassador told me that one of our firms got a contract to deal with all the plumbing in Libya after the conflict, and that the Libyans had to come to Zagreb, and they were denied a visa, which the Spaniards were very happy to give them, and now the Spaniards are renovating Libya's waterworks, and our firm failed.

And the Spaniards are in the EU, they're even in Schengen. So, with what magic did they manage to solve this visa problem for people who were proven to be bringing a multi-million dollar job with them? I've been told that government ministers end up waiting for a visa for Croatia for ten months, and that people coming to meetings with the prime minister are doing so on a tourist visa!

It's clear to me that there are all sorts of underhand things going on, but there must be a simpler and faster process for investors who have proven themselves and who have already invested part of their money in Croatia. These people are the co-owners of firms, they have property in Croatia that they can't even get to.

[This has been written] with the desire that your wages start depending on the performance of you and your colleagues,

capt. Stjepan Bedić, Engineer Aeronaut.
BEST Aero d.o.o. "

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated business page for more on doing business and investment in Croatia.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

WBAF Croatia is First Croatian Project for Experienced Turkish Investor

WBAF Croatia will focus on facilitating access to finance for start-ups, start-ups, MSPs and fast-growing companies, and will start with international training programs for investors. Baybar Altuntaşa, a successful Turkish entrepreneur and investor is set to kickstart his very first Croatian project.

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of January, 2019, on Monday, January the 21st, in Zabok's Bračak castle, the first office of the World Investment Forum of Business Angels (WBAF) opens in the European Union. As we reported recently, the office will provide education for startups and business angels as it has been available in London. This includes elite tourism and the support of Krapina-Zagorje County. Such unusual news is otherwise an everyday thing for Baybar Altuntaşa. This prosperous Turkish entrepreneur, angel investor and entrepreneur promoter has a number of international success stories behind him.

Over in Turkey, he is also celebrated as a TV star in their version of the entrepreneurial reality show Shark Tank. He is the president of the Turkish Business Angels Network (TBAA), vice president of the European Business Angels Network (EBAN) and founder and president of WBAF. He has been coming to Croatia fairly regularly since visiting for the very first time back in 2015, and Poslovni Dnevnik talked with Altuntaş about his debut Croatian project.

You developed the QBAC program based on the WBAF program on the London Stock Exchange. You have been an advisor for this LSE program. What exactly did this program offer to LSE investors?

First of all, the WBAF wants to help increase financial engagement across the globe. We also want to help investors make good and early returns on their investment, as this generates resources for more investment in new startups. And thirdly, the WBAF wants to speed up the conversion of public money into smart money, to encourage innovation. We've designed a course to provide business angels with knowledge and tools to help them achieve their own goals as investors, which in return will contribute to achieving the WBAF's goals for the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

How will the Croatian version of QBAC, called QBAC Bootcamp Croatia, differ from those over in London?

In Croatia, we've strengthened the bootcamp with panel discussions, round tables and debates. It will be comprehensive and will involve a cultural interaction with the Croatian investment ecosystem. This will also include visits to technoparks, student meetings, and fundraising for startups.

How did you come to the assessment that for QBAC Bootcamp Croatia there is a market of 500,000 business angels, ie, potential customers?

I believe that Croatia will be a training center for European investors, through the WBAF training programs that will be implemented there. The European Business Angels Network statistics for 2017 reveal that 320,000 business angels invested 9.6 billion euros in Europe in that year. Furthermore, the Angel Capital Association (ACA) statistics show that 340,000 business angels filed 26 billion dollars in the United States last year.

As the QBAC Bootcamp Croatia is new and the only such thing in the world, it's clear that none of these thousands of business angels received a Qualified Business Angels Certificate, and most of them were not licensed by their governments as a business angel. Holding a certificate or a license, of course, isn't mandatory for somebody who wants to invest. However, it's understood that a training program which reduces risks and increases the return on investment for business angels is of great importance. Learning through work is very different from what you do after having learned something.

What are the expectations of the WBAF from the office in Croatia?

By opening this office, the WBAF provides Croatia with the opportunity to network in the investment world. It will have a co-ordination role for EU members entrusted to it, in which the WBAF has high representatives in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Switzerland.

The countries you mention, which will be "covered" by the Croatian office, usually have bigger and more active communities of business angels than Croatia. What is Croatia's advantage to you, and why are you opening the first office in the EU here?

Croatia is the birthplace of Nikola Tesla, one of the most important inventors of the 19th century and the symbol of inventiveness. Today, in the 21st century, through WBAF Croatia, inventors in Croatia will be better connected with global capital markets and smart financing through business angels. The result of this convergence will be innovations that will create a major competitive advantage for the Croatian economy. The WBAF Office in Croatia means more startups, new ideas, smart financing, and innovation.

How did the office opening project in Croatia evolve? The initiative allegedly came from Krapina-Zagorje County prefect Željko Kolar?

Yes, months ago, Željko Kolar invited me to visit Zabok. We saw the castle of Bračak and learned a lot about its history. I was impressed by how the county had turned such a historic building into a modern, smart building.

Prefect Kolar told me that he wanted to turn Zagorje into a centre for entrepreneurship, startup and innovation in the EU. At the Croatian level, that county wants to strengthen the startup community throughout the country. But they're looking further and further afield. They're planning to network entrepreneurs and investor angels from around the world, and because of that they're stimulating the growth of small and medium businesses and creating new jobs. A simpler approach to financing, this beyond the framework of the usual banking system, is conducive to accelerating financial inclusion as an integral part of the strategy that should affect society at the local and at the national level. I wondered if it was possible for such a small country to become Europe's leader in innovation. Then I left Croatia with this thought in mind.

After that, what personally motivated you to open up the WBAF office in Croatia?

Croatia's success at the FIFA World Cup in 2018 encouraged me to support this project. Croatia isn't a big country and it only has four million people, but the way the Croatian national football team managed to get to the final and defeated the teams of Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Brazil, China and Turkey, that's a miracle. Then I decided to look at the Kolar's project much more seriously and I presented the idea of ​​opening the WBAF offices of Croatia to the members of the administration. All the members of the board were in the meeting and we agreed at once - It doesn't matter how big the country is! It's important how ''big'' the people are, how persistent, and passionate they are to realise their dreams.

What can startups and business angels in Croatia expect from the WBAF office?

WBAF Croatia will focus on facilitating access to finance for entrepreneurs, start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, and fast-growing businesses, and will start with international training programs for investors. The plan is, moreover, to promote programs for entrepreneurs who will prepare them for receiving investments, organise investment forums for startups, arrange international investors' arrivals to Croatia, and promote Croatian entrepreneurs and businesses globally.

The WBAF office is opening under a licensed model. What are the conditions [for that]?

The office in Croatia will be managed by the Entrepreneurship Centre of Krapina-Zagorje County, which has a WBAF license. The president of the WBAF steering board in the Republic of Croatia will be Prefect Željko Kolar. By taking over this responsibility, the county will become part of the world's financial and business network, which aims to facilitate access to capital for entrepreneurs of start-ups and entrepreneurs in the intensive growth phase.

Will there be cooperation between offices in Croatia with those in Tanzania, Macedonia or future offices in Brazil and other countries?

The WBAF believes that launching an office at the national level provides a great opportunity for governments to discover the real power of startups and businesses to boost their economies through innovation, investments, business angels. and entrepreneurship. It's good to see that governments around the world realise the importance of investing, business angels, and entrepreneurship to foster the development of their economies.

Many governments, especially those in Europe, offer generous tax incentives for angel investments. To support such a system, the UK and Turkey have already adopted laws on business angels investing. Islamic economies have also begun to see the importance of the capital market at an early stage. In fact, the Islamic Development Bank has included angel investments on its list of recommended topics that should be considered at its annual conference in Jakarta.

The WBAF is inviting all governments and policy makers to use their knowledge, mentoring and networking of qualified business angels, and to turn public funding into smart financing by establishing close co-operation between public institutions and private resources. Working together across borders, with a common vision, we're in a good position to make positive changes in the global economy. I'm sure that co-operation with other WBAF offices across the world will enable a faster impact on both the Croatian and world economies.

Stay up to date with much more by following our dedicated business page.


Click here for the original article/interview by Bernard Ivezic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Osijek Offers Investors Hope With Numerous Attractive Measures

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of January, 2019, Osijek's "IT park" business zone story is beginning to develop after a lot of back and forth on the issue, much to the satisfaction of interested parties. The City of Osijek and its numerous IT companies whose business results and success have put Osijek firmly on the map, are leading it to become a focus of the Croatian IT scene.

Glas Slavonije reported that its very last session last year, Osijek's City Council adopted a proposal for a decision on the establishment of the "IT Park" business zone with the aim of attracting investment and opening up new jobs in the IT sector. The value of the investment stands at a massive eighteen million kuna. In the IT park itself, which boasts a total area of ​​2.5 hectares, bigger companies will be able to buy plots of land for the construction of their own buildings, and the City of Osijek will deal with and construct all the necessary infrastructure and business buildings for small IT companies.

In addition to this measure, the City of Osijek has also implemented a program of incentives and breaks for the purchase of plots in this zone, which became valid after being published in the Official Gazette. Osijek's city administration has, once again, prepared a set of "different modules which contain certain measures (incentives and facilitations) aimed at attracting both domestic and foreign investors from the IT sector to long-term investments in the ''IT park'' business zone in Osijek.'' The goal of this measure is very clear, the aim is to create new jobs, reduce unemployment and ensure a high quality environment for the development and operation of the IT sector in Osijek.

Basically, companies will have the right to incentives and numerous forms of breaks if, according to the national classification law, they belong to one of the three priority groups. In the first group, there are, for example, computer programming or computer hardware and software management, in the second group lies production (electrical components, computer and peripheral equipment), in the third group comes processing and computer games.

The reduction in the price of plots of land intended for construction is 10 to 30 percent, depending on the group. If Osijek's new economic facility is built within 24 months of the conclusion of a construction contract, the land price will be reduced by as much as 40 percent. If, in the year preceding the year of the conclusion of the sales contract, a minimum of 1 million kuna is realised, the right to a price reduction of 10 percent will come into force.

Of course, the biggest reduction in the price is related to creating jobs and offering new employment possibilities. An entrepreneur who, from the moment of signing a contract on the establishment a land sale for construction maintains the existing number of employees, earns the right to a 10 percent reduction, if he or she hires up to ten workers, a 30 percent reduction follows, and if he or she hires more than 20 workers, the price reduction will stand at a massive 60 percent.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know about investment and doing business in Osijek and in Croatia as a whole by following our dedicated business page.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

China and Croatia Grow Closer as Chinese Focus on Rijeka and Coast

The relationship between China and Croatia is continuing to grow ever closer, and bringing the Chinese to the Croatian coast is potentially just an introductory step in their much wider engagement on the development of Rijeka's traffic connections, both operationally and financially.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of January, 2019, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, will travel to China later this month, where he will discuss, among other things, the opportunity for them to take the concession for a new Rijeka container terminal on the coast with Chinese shipowners and port operators, according a report from Novi list.

Butković will meet with the Chinese traffic minister, representatives of CRBC, who will build Pelješac Bridge, and will also meet with representatives of the naval giant COSCO, as well as several large Chinese shipping and port companies, the potential leasers of the container terminal on that part of the Croatian coast, for which the concession would have to be announced by the middle of this year.

As China and Croatia's bond grows deeper still, the Chinese companies will start with the concession on that particular part of the Croatian coast, the development of a logistics centre and a back terminal in the entrepreneurial Miklavlje zone will probably be offered.

If an interest in making such a move is shown, then the competent Croatian ministry and the Croatian Government will begin seriously contemplating their involvement in far larger infrastructure projects on Rijeka's traffic connections, primarily the construction of a railway line from Rijeka all the way to the Hungarian border, and when looking at much longer-term plans, the possible construction of a large container terminal on the island of Krk, along with a new road-rail bridge.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything you need to know on the growing relationship between China and Croatia and much, much more by following our dedicated business page.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Jadranovo Near Crikvenica to Get Fourteen Million Kuna Makeover

As Morski writes on the 13th of January, 2019, Jadranovo near Crikvenica, which continues to record an encouraging and steady rise in both tourist arrivals and overnight stays, needs to give its beach and immediate coastal area a makeover. The inhabitants of Jadranovo, as well as their growing number of guests, require a safe, well-kept beach area that will allow for the further development of tourism in the area.

Therefore, and in addition to Perčin port, Grabrova bay, and more precisely its area located under the beach, will be given that much needed makeover. Behind that, a new square will be constructed, which together with the beach will make up the brand new face of Jakovarska bay. Creating a quality and attractive beach space will create the opportunity for new initiatives to develop, including the placement of tourism facilities and shopping areas on the coast, writes Novi list.

This project was recognised by the Ministry of Tourism and the Deputy Mayor of Crikvenica, Silvia Crnić, who signed the contract for the co-financing of the project in the amount of 640 thousand kuna, in accordance with the program of development of the public tourist infrastructure for 2018.

About 250 meters of Jadranovo's beach area will get a new look as well as some very welcome brand new facilities. There will also be, as previously mentioned, a new square that will fit perfectly into the coastal area and become an integral part of Grabova's new look. The cost of these works stands at fourteen million kuna and such investments will easily be justified by the much faster development of Jadranovo as a destination.

In the area itself, locals think that Grabova's makeover, as well as the doing up of Perčin port, will see Jadranovo truly become a place that lives on the sea and not just by the sea. Although Jadranovo boasts many beautiful beaches, they are mostly hidden away and more difficult for people to access. This project will provide an easily accessible oasis in the very centre of a place that both tourists and locals will fall in love with at first sight.

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


Click here for the original article by Natasa Car for Novi list

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