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Markovic – Stamenova, Despodov and Nikova – Bundovski: The Voice of the Business Sector is Female

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2019 will be the year of unification of the private sector and equalization of its voice, say the three interlocutors for Kapital, the executive directors of business chambers in the country: Diana Despodov from the American Chamber of Commerce – AmCham, Anita Nikova-Bundovski from the Chamber of ICT sector MASIT and Biljana Markovic-Stamenova from Macedonia 2025. They say that a big step forward in the cooperation between the chambers of commerce has already been made and that trend will continue this year and grow because, according to them, the entire private sector is united and together they locate the challenges and everyday obstacles in the process of their work.

Diana Despodov, CEO, AmCham
“It’s high time to start moving the economy forward by creating real value and growth, rather than relying on subsidies that do not motivate entrepreneurs and don’t inspire growth and development. We need a more aggressive growth and serious reforms in the economic system. ”

Anita Nikova – Bundovski, Executive Director, MASIT
“The government never presented any solutions for dealing with the grey economy, and their statistics show that Macedonia’s grey economy is estimated around 30% of GDP. In conditions like this, when we have non-transparent adoption of key regulations for the business sector, we expect further increase of the grey economy which is detrimental to the private sector as it leads to unfair competition. ”

Biljana Markovic – Stamenova, Executive Director, Macedonia 2025
“We are often in contact with representatives of companies from abroad who have made connection  through economic promoters or members of the diaspora and want to invest in our country. The past two years we’ve seen a negative trend of inadequate communication and position of state institutions and officials towards foreign investments. Some of the foreign investors, mainly from the smart industries, have already left the country. ”

The pre-announced economic year has started, and with it the economic opportunities and challenges that await us. To find out how the business sector is preparing for the economy in 2019 and what economic parameters are important for the development of the economy and improvement of the overall social situation, we invited representatives of several chambers of commerce and business associations to discuss the topic of the Macedonia’s economy.

On the other side of the table are three speakers of the business sector: Anita Nikova-Bundovski, from MASIT, Chamber of the ICT sector, Diana Despodov, from the American Chamber of Commerce – AmCham and Biljana Markovic-Stamenova from Macedonia 2025, whose organizations already jointly act as representatives of the private sector.

The ladies radiate enthusiasm and energy since the early days of 2019. They are ready to take the bull by the horns and fight for better cross-sectoral dialogue in order to promote the economic climate in Macedonia.

Unanimous and united, together representing hundreds of companies from the Macedonian economy that employ thousands of citizens, in a constructive manner of true leaders they shared with us their views on the parameters that determine the extent to which we will live the announced economic year.

Throughout the conversation they say that the business community does not expect an economic year, but a year of uncertainties regarding the legislative changes affecting the business.

“The business sector is a locomotive that drives the economy and in order to be able to operate at full steam, it is necessary to have an environment that is characterized by predictability, equal rules of the game, the rule of law, transparency and the elimination of the grey economy,” says Diana Despodov, executive director of AmCham.

“We do not criticize politicians, but policies,” she says, “because politicians come and go, but policies remain and affect the economy for decades,” she adds.

Unlike the huge announcement for the economic year, their attitude is more cautious and aware that the parameters left behind will greatly affect the development of the economic system in the year that has just begun.

“This year Macedonia’s growth rate was between 2.8 and 3.2%. According to the World Bank analysis, if the GDP growth is 5% Macedonia will reach the EU standard in 30 years, and if the GDP growth is 10% we will reach the standard in 15 years. From this it is clear that we need a more aggressive growth and serious reforms in the economic system, “replied Diana Despodov, analyzing the realized economic growth of Macedonia.

According to her, it’s high time to start moving the economy forward by creating real value and growth, rather than relying on subsidies that do not motivate entrepreneurs and don’t inspire growth and development. Anita Nikova-Bundovski from MASIT, added that we should think about a knowledge-based economy and have more planned approach in the programming of regulations and reforms. This, she said, is something that is currently lacking in the business community in Macedonia, both domestic and foreign.

MN: “They do not consult the business community regarding key regulations and this is a constant practice.”

Contrary to the government’s claims that each regulation is carried through a transparent public debate, our three interlocutors say that “the business community is not sufficiently esteemed,” stating that the trend has not changed for years, including the past year, and as they say, several laws have been developed without prior and proper consultation with the business sector.

The manner of adopting the legislation should be changed and the planned changes announced in a timely manner, at least one year in advance, “says Nikova-Bundovski.

“When progressive tax was introduced in Croatia, the changes were announced five years in advance and all factors in the society – the administration, the private sector and the citizens had time to consult and adjust to the new regulation,” adds Despodov.

The lack of predictability in the regulation leads to uncertainty in the private sector that results in reduced investment and increased attention that does not inspire growth and development, say the ladies.

Our interlocutors say that when the increased administrative burdens are added, as well as the lack of a strategy to attract additional foreign investment, we are facing a business climate that stagnates and discourages.

Biljana Markovic-Stamenova from the organization Macedonia 2025 says: “In order to hope that 2019 will be an economic year, I think we need to learn the mistakes that were made in the economic plan in the past two years.”

“We are often in contact with representatives of companies from abroad who have made connection through economic promoters or members of the diaspora and want to invest in our country. The past two years we’ve seen a negative trend of inadequate communication and position of state institutions and officials towards potential foreign investments. During the pre-election campaign it was like they “demonized” foreign investors, who bring benefits to the state through stimulating the economy and additionally contribute through new technologies, knowledge transfer, paying taxes, developing skills among employees, etc., which the state should take into consideration “, commented Markovic-Stamenova, referring to the treatment towards the foreign companies in our country, which, as our interlocutors agree, are a big and serious factor in the Macedonian economy and at the same time they promote our country to their foreign trade partners.

Our interlocutors say that they are constantly receiving complaints from foreign companies who mostly complain that in key economic positions are assigned to people who do not have the capacity to lead those sectors. By conveying the experiences from their communication with foreign companies operating in our country or are interested in investing here, they conclude that without suitable people, key economic policies can not be implemented, nor could the existing investments by foreign companies be retained in the long run.

“On the other hand, Macedonia has too many ministers and government institutions working in the sphere of attracting foreign investments, which further complicates the work in terms of providing adequate services for the existing ones, as well as the process of realizing new investments,” notes Markovic – Stamenova. “During this year’s Macedonia2025 Summit, speaker Andrew Wrobel of the magazine “Emerging Europe” noted that some of the potential investors in Macedonia are confused because they do not know exactly who should they address in the government, and received a bad impression when different government bodies began to openly argue over who should help and be responsible for them.”

Still disappointed with the way in which the new Personal Income Tax Law was adopted, the representatives of the three chambers remained unanimous in their view that although they asked to be involved in the adoption of those key regulations for the private sector and offered expertise and resources for careful devising of the economic policies, they state that their claims and remarks were ignored.

“As an example, the public discussion for the draft law on personal income was scheduled only after the draft law was submitted to Parliament and the social actors reacted to the lack of public debate. This shows us that they didn’t want to hear the feedback of the private sector. Additionally, claims were made that the private sector does not want to pay taxes, which is ironic when it is considered that the state budget is mostly filled by the fees from the private sector, where salaries and contributions are higher, contrary to the state administration that discharges the budget or civil society organizations that are not a significant economic factor. We just wanted extra time and analysis to make a meaningful tax reform and develop a tax strategy that will really be progressive and will match the local circumstances and the level of economic development. What we now have is not a progressive tax, but a flat tax with two rates. For example, why don’t they abolish the personal income tax for those who take a minimum wage? If the goal was to have some social equalization, why don’t we increase the rate up to 25% for those who take, let’s say, 5.000 Euros? Currently, those who earn 12.000 denars and those who earn 90.000 denars have the same tax rate. I don’t see progressiveness here, do you?”, asks Diana Despodov.

Biljana Markovic – Stamenova reacts to the attitude of public servants towards foreign investors and offered information for several companies that have dislocated their headquarters from Macedonia as a result of inadequate policies and measures.

“The retroactive VAT payment made several of these foreign companies to leave the country. These were companies from smart industries. They were ordered to pay retroactive VAT on their export invoices, for the last 5 years”, disclosed Markovic-Stamenova.

“Several Macedonian companies have announced that as a result of the changed tax rates, they will transfer their operational activities to Bulgaria and Estonia,” she adds.

MN: “The perception is distorted for both domestic and foreign investors”

Anita Nikova from MASIT, comments on the lack of government strategy for economic growth. “The government never presented any solutions for dealing with the grey economy, and their statistics show that Macedonia’s grey economy is estimated around 30% of GDP. In conditions like this, we expect further increase of the grey economy which is detrimental to the private sector as it leads to unfair competition”, says Nikova-Bundovski.

According to her, the Macedonian authorities have no strategy to approach foreign companies around world and present investment opportunities. We do not have documents and promotional materials, she says.

“We are not promoting our country anywhere, we have four ministers for attracting foreign investments, I do not know who they are or what are their names. The fact that someone who works on this subject does not know who are those ministers is defeating”, comments Nikova-Bundovski.

“Do we have priority industries? Did anyone asked us what kind of investments are needed for our industries? Because we know exactly what every industry needs, “she added.

Diana Despodov adds to the subject, emphasizing that there is no strategy for the bitter problem of lack of staff, as well, both professional and unskilled. “The strategies of the Employment Agency for re qualification and further qualification are not based on the real needs of the labor market, perhaps because the business community is not consulted when these strategies and policies are adopted”, said Despodov.

With the same passion as before, our interlocutors continue to comment on the challenges in doing business in our country, such as the gray economy, corruption, as well as the imposed bad attitude towards the business community, and as they say, the distorted perception for the foreign investors, who, according to their impression, are notorious as exploiters and usurpers.

“We have 10 investors from the diaspora who gave up on investment. Instead of focusing on economic development and attracting new investors, we are focusing on extracting as much money as possible from those who are here”, says Biljana Markovic-Stamenova.

Referring to the behavioral parameters for the development of entrepreneurship in Macedonia as a key trend in the development of the economy in any country, Despodov says that “it is almost impossible to encourage entrepreneurship in a country where,” as she said, “people have no vision of the future beyond the next election cycle, and at the same time a country in which public administration is still the largest employer.”

“As long as people are hoping for employment in the public administration, the development of entrepreneurship will not reach a satisfactory level. In a situation like this, where people are still eagerly waiting for a job in public administration, even if we attract big companies who will work in those companies? I have spoken with companies that currently have 250 free places that they can not fill. Let’s not deceive ourselves, what we lack is not just programmers. What we lack are machine fitters, welders, elevator installers, etc.”, comments AmCam CEO, Despodov.

The topic of the brain drain from Macedonia is all the more painful for the Macedonian economy, whose development depends mostly on the professional staff that’s diminishing. In this conversation, we also reflected on the emigration of young people, and according to our interlocutors, this leads to a growing struggle for the survival of the private sector.

The first to point this out was Despodov, who says: “The private sector must understand that the biggest resource is their employees and they have to invest in them. Not only in terms of higher salaries, but also in terms of their development by providing professional training, additional qualifications, creating a pleasant work environment in which the employee will work satisfactorily and productively, with minimum stress. ”

Adding to her reply, she says: “In order for the private sector to relax and start investing in its employees, it needs foresight, stability, the rule of law, it needs a grey economy so small that it is almost imperceptible, it needs loyal competition, transparency, absence of corruption.

Anita Nikova-Bundovski from MASIT followed this issue, where, as an example, she mentioned the IT sector, who constantly works with foreign partners. “For that cooperation to be in continuity,” she says, “we are constantly finding ways to invest in the development of human and company certificates.” In addition to her response, Nikova raised the issue of the willingness of the Macedonian managers, as well as the investment in knowledge by the domestic companies.

“The competition should not always be the only thing that challenges us to invest in our staff. We need to take an extra step in the development of the mentality, and education of people in managerial positions. These certificates are a guarantee for foreign companies. The country you come from doesn’t promise anything, but the company’s certification and human capacities are a serious assurance”, added Nikova-Bundovski.

MN: “This country and its prosperity are more important to us than any politician or political party.”

During the conversation, we asked our interlocutors about their views and suggestions on how to increase the cooperation between foreign and domestic companies. Namely for the cooperation between domestic businesses and foreign companies, because economic indicators say that it is unsatisfactory, resulting in a very small trade.

“It’s absolutely true,” says Despodov, “that there is very small cooperation between foreign investments and domestic companies as suppliers. But, “she continues,” it is presented to the public that the foreign companies are to blame, that they apparently do not want to cooperate with domestic companies.

From my experience and conversations with companies, I’ll say that there is much more interest among the foreign companies to work with domestic ones. However, they often encounter problems such as lack of standards and certificates from domestic companies, and the domestic entrepreneurs are unwilling to invest in their own businesses and obtain the necessary certifications that foreign companies are requesting. Macedonian companies love their comfort zone and status quo and are not willing to invest either money or labor to bring the standards to a level where they can serve as suppliers to foreign companies. It is also problematic that domestic companies often fail to meet the delivery deadlines and other terms of the agreement. So, we have a two-way problem here. Firstly, the foreign companies should make a bigger effort to identify the domestic companies that are willing to invest and increase their standards, but on the other hand domestic companies need to show a little more interest to develop to the extent that will allow them to serve as suppliers of foreign companies”, explained AmCham’s Executive Director.

We brought the conversation to its end, although the enthusiasm and the passion that glued ​​us on this chairs, seated across each other, made us completely lose sense of time. And for nearly three hours our conversation flowed through the spacious restaurant “Four” in Hotel Park.

While we were locating the obstacles faced by companies represented by the organizations that these three ladies represent in their day-to-day functioning, introduced by their real names, did not suggest that this conversation would end here.

It feels as this was a small announcement for their takeover of the economic “stage” in 2019, it was like an announcement for many subsequent meetings, in wider composition, with even louder stances, with even stronger arguments, present everywhere in the media space.

“2019 will be the year of unification of the private sector and equalization of its voice.”, says Despodov.

Asked what is the basis of her claim, she says a major step forward in the cooperation between the chambers of commerce has already been made. This trend, according to her, will continue for the current year and will grow, and the reason behind this is that the entire private sector is united and together they are locating the challenges and everyday obstacles in the process of their work.

“We are united and loud and we are not afraid to continue to be such because this country is more important to us, to the private sector, than any politician or political party. We want to continue working here, and we want our children to grow up and work here”, says Nikova-Bundovski.  “And we call on the other chambers, the civil sector and all who want reforms and progress, to join us,” say our interlocutors, “because we do not inherit the country from our ancestors, but we borrow it from our children, and we don’t want our children to be halfway out of here since childhood”, says Diana Despodov.

And if this year, so confidently and clairvoyantly proclaimed by the Government as economic year, be appreciated by its beginning, there is no doubt that after this amazing energy, the voice that will lead through the challenges for a better economy, better conditions for the development of the private sector, to achieve a higher standard for the citizens, will definitely be the voice of the business community.

EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting: Companies Should Explore the True Potential of Their Business by Applying to the Bitove Family Entrepreneurship Program

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Interview with Lynda J. Gibson – CESO Volunteer Advisor and Mihajlo Evrosimovski – CEO & Owner of EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting, Skopje

EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting is a company that offers business management consulting services, maintaining the leadership position in this field, through the realization and development of high quality and professional services. This company was one of the successful applicants to the Bitove Family Entrepreneurship Program, managed by Macedonia2025 in partnership with CESO.

As such, Lynda J. Gibson – a proven expert with decades of global consulting experience was the second CESO Volunteer Advisor coming to Macedonia, doing her assignment at EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting – Skopje, thus assisting the growth of the firm on the international consulting market. In an interview for Macedonia2025, Gibson and Evrosimovski reveal how their applied for the program and what are the main benefits and expectations on the long run.

Mihajlo Evrosimovski – CEO & Owner of EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting and Lynda J. Gibson – CESO Volunteer Advisor

  1. Could you both tell us something more about yourselves?

Gibson: I am a career management consultant from Vancouver British Columbia. I worked for several boutique specialized consulting similar to EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting before joining a global firm, Deloitte & Touche. I have never been to Macedonia but did do an assignment in Romania. That was a long time ago and I was thrilled to hear about CESO’s focus on Macedonia – I jumped at the chance to participate!

Evrosimovski: I am the Manager and CEO of EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting. I have founded EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting in 2006, since then I am in charge of planning, organizing, coordinating and operation control of all the necessary activities regarding to defining, establishing and managing of EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting.

  1. Mr. Evrosimovski, why did you decide to choose Lynda J. Gibson as a CESO Volunteer Advisor in your company? What prompted you to apply and where did you see the need of having an external consultancy in your company?

Evrosimovski: When we were making the choice about the most appropriate CESO Volunteer Advisor for our company we were detailly comparing the consultants’ profile with our needs and expectations. We were pleased to see that we received interest for offering advisory services from an experienced expert such as Mrs. Gibson. Her resume was more than impressive for us and we were happy to know that we can collaborate with her.

The engagement that Mrs. Gibson had in world-known, successful consultancy companies that are in similar field as ours, made us hopeful that we can have the opportunity to be consulted from an experienced professional.

We saw the need of having an external consultancy in our company when we were defining our future goals for the company. One of our main goal is to increase the number of clients, to adjust and improve our business, marketing and sales strategy, and also to penetrate the foreign market. Considering our needs, we decided that the best advisory for reaching our goals could be given by an external consultant with international experience. The other point that was important for us was the idea of having brainstorming meetings with an expert that can influence the way that we manage, organize and plan our business activities.

  1. Mrs. Gibson, as a person coming from Canada, what are your first impressions from Macedonia? How did you adapt to the existing working culture?

Gibson: Macedonia is a real gem. The geography, the people, the culture are enchanting. Much of the business of professional services are the same in Macedonia as the rest of Europe and so there was not much need to adapt. The major issue for me was to understand why breakfast is at 10 or 11 am and lunch is mid-afternoon!

  1. Mr. Evrosimovski, in which aspects from your work is the CESO Volunteer Advisor mostly included?

Evrosimovski: As mentioned, the CESO Volunteer Advisor was mostly included in re-defining our business plan for the next period regarding the re-organizing of our strategy, our approach to the market and analyzing the possibilities for improvement.

EVROSIMOVSKI Consulting team together with Lynda J. Gibson – CESO Volunteer Advisor

  1. How would the Bitove Family Entrepreneurship program sponsored by the Bitove Family Foundation, in alliance with CESO and Macedonia2025, affect the company’s competitiveness? What are the main benefits?

Gibson: The company is already very competitive thanks to its current leadership. We were able to develop a low risk plan that will allow it to expand in Macedonia and to become a unique professional services firm that supports clients across the Balkans.

Evrosimovski: We believe that the company’s competitiveness will be affected in a good way.

  1. What are the expectations on the long run?

Evrosimovski: On the long run we expect to achieve the results and reach the goals. After finishing all the phases of her engagement we prepared together a valuable plan that we tend to follow. The communication and collaboration was based on exchanging ideas and information, so therefore the conclusions of our work are realistic and achievable.

Gibson: I would expect that in the next 3 years the company is two to three times its current size in terms of people and revenue.

  1. Why should other Macedonian companies apply to the Bitove Family Entrepreneurship Program?

Evrosimovski: The Bitove Family Entrepreneurship Program is a great program that can bring benefits for the companies in Macedonia. The opportunity that the program gives to the companies and their management is of great value. We believe that the companies in the region, like ours, have great potential, skills, human resources and can therefore achieve much more after getting advisory from the experts that contribute to the program. The network of CESO Volunteer Advisors that the program is working with is composed of high-profile experts from many fields with much experience in many fields of work.

The other very important benefit from the program is that the vision for extending the market for offering services internationally can get realistic advice and guidelines from an expert whose knowledge is very relevant. We advise other companies to extend their boundaries and allow themselves to explore the true potential of their business by using the Bitove Family Entrepreneurship Program.

Gibson: This is an amazing opportunity to work as a partner on a 1-1 basis with willing and ambitious SME leaders in a country that has everything in place to grow and expand opportunities within the EU.

Thank you for the interview.

Interview by Ema Jakimovska, Communications Officer

Toronto and Schulich School of Business – An Experience to Remember

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I really hope that this testimonial will motivate other people to explore this possibility offered by Macedonia2025

It was summer 2017, when after a long time I met my friend from university days. Following the usual “what is going on” conversation, she started to talk about her trip to Toronto supported by Macedonia 2025 and the great experience she had there. From the beginning, it sounded like a very good idea, but the real “buy in” was the passion and excitement, while she was describing her experience at Schulich School of Business and the job shadowing at a local Canadian company.

The trip was organized in two weeks, where the first week consisted of attending a course at Schulich School of Business at York University and the second week was the job shadowing at a local Canadian company, organized and supported by Macedonia2025. There were several courses available for each candidate. Based on my career level and educational background, I have decided to attend the course – Leadership Competences: What Senior Managers Need to Know. It was a very well-shaped course intended for experienced managers and executives. It improved my competencies in several areas, such as business governance, strategic planning and problem solving, innovation and change management, global business perspectives, financial planning, coaching skills, employee productivity and engagement. It did not only provide informative material, but it also included practical concepts that can be applied in everyday business. However, what impressed me the most were the lecturers and professors. All of them were excellent teachers and very experienced professionals with practical experience behind them. The lectures were very interactive, resulting in fruitful and interesting discussions among participants, which added additional value to the overall positive experience. Of course, this is in line with the fact that the Schulich School of Business is ranked #1 in Canada and certainly is one of the most eminent business schools worldwide.

Maybe the greatest experience from the whole trip was the job-shadowing week. I really want to congratulate Macedonia2025 and especially Jim Nikopoulos – President of ECN Capital and member of Macedonia2025 Board of Directors, for their vision and commitment to help professionals from Macedonia to extend their business education and experience. I have spent five days at ECN Capital’s IT and marketing departments and had time to learn and see how one big financial North-American corporation function. It was definitely something unrelated to what we are used to, starting with the scale and ending with the practice. What I saw and learned will definitely help me embrace future professional challenges with greater confidence. The two weeks spent at the Schulich School of Business and the job practice provided me with tools and insights that will assist me in taking my professional career to a higher level.

During these two weeks, I was also able to meet many people. Many of them were my compatriots who decided to continue their lives in Toronto and some of them were professionals and colleagues that I have met at the school and at ECN Capital.  They are all great people with whom we mutually shared excellent time, knowledge and ideas. I really hope and believe that our communication will continue in the upcoming years.

At the end I can only conclude that for me this was a rare lifetime experience that really helped me grow as a professional, but mostly as a person. I would like to thank Macedonia2025 for the provided opportunity. Once again, Macedonia2025 proved that it is fully committed to the cause of helping and giving back to community for a better and more prosperous Macedonia.

Macedonia2025’s Project among the Winning Applications of the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI)

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Macedonia 2025 is proud to announce the commencement of a new project funded by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), where it has been selected among numerous applications from the region

Vladan Miladinovic – Political, Economic and Media Officer at the Embassy of Canada, Belgrade with Macedonia2025 Executive Director, signing the Agreement

Upon successfully establishing the Bitove Family Entrepreneurship Program in partnership with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), Macedonia2025 will add value to the existing program by scaling up its activities and reaching out to more beneficiaries, in particular organizations focused on empowering women entrepreneurship, thanks to the new project funded by the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).

The aim of the project is to empower female-led business associations by assigning them an Advisor who will be intensively working with them to strengthen the organizational capacity. Namely, three Canadian Advisors will be providing technical assistance to Macedonian female-led associations, which are focused on advocacy for female entrepreneurship, gender equality and empowerment of women by increased opportunities for employment. The Advisors will focus on helping the organizations on improving their services for their members and guiding them how to handle their needs and requests in order to build stronger women entrepreneurs’ community. They will also work on strengthening the organizational capacity, self-sustainability and strengthening the associations through economic activities, which will lead towards providing adequate financial stability.

The program will be implemented through a diverse group of civic organizations and associations across Macedonia who work with female entrepreneurs or whose members are holders of executive positions in different fields. The final objective is to contribute to the transformation of these organizations targeting women-entrepreneurs into self-sustainable entities who could prosper from the growth and development of their members.

Open call for The Kellogg School of Management

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Macedonia2025 has signed an exclusive agreement with the Kellogg School of Management (KSM) to provide scholarships to their globally renowned Kellogg Executive Development Program under the Zafirovski Executive Education Program Scholarships.. This new and exciting executive development program was officially launched at the Macedonia2025 Summit.

This program will enhance the competencies and performance of the Macedonian leaders and will contribute to the further development of the Macedonian economy and workforce. KSM is part of Northwestern University, whose school of business is ranked first in the world, according to Economist’s survey for 2017

The program consists of 3 weeks at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and additional opportunities for: mentoring, networking and experiential learning.

The Kellogg School of Management and Macedonia2025 have a common interest in providing and delivering world-class executive education to business leaders from Macedonia. This will enhance their competencies and performance and will contribute to the further development of the Macedonian economy and workforce. KSM is part of Northwestern University, whose school of business is ranked third in the United States and second in the US Employer survey. Macedonia2025 wishes to express gratitude to the Kellogg School of management and the <strong>Robin and Mike Zafirovski Foundation for supporting the Macedonia2025 Executive and Leadership Development program.

We admire the mission of Macedonia2025 and are pleased to be part of this exciting new program commencing in early 2017, which will help train future business leaders from Macedonia.

Will GarrettChief Operating Officer and a Clinical Professor of Management at the Kellogg School of Management

Target participants:

  • CXOs/  Senior Executives with 10+ years of experience for Executive Development Program
  • CXOs/ Senior Executives with 15+ years of experience for Advanced Management Program
  • Supported by their CEO
  • Strongly motivated to be part of the program and to give back to the country and Macedonia2025


  • Inspire the next generation of Business leaders in Macedonia
  • Stimulate economic development by helping to promote Foreign Investment and assisting in the promotion of Export development
  • Provide access to globally recognized Executive Education Training
  • Ensure these executives become role models for future generations
  • A long-term investment in human capital – to educate and mentor business executives and to support economic development through future business leadership
  • We are building a stronger future for Macedonia

Download the Open Call

Download the Kellog AMP Application

Download the Kellog EDP Application

Download the Applicant Assessment Form


Economic Measures: Plan for Economic Growth

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In February 2018, the Government publicly announced a new set of industry assistance with a total value up to €66 million. The measures are called the “Plan for Economic Growth”. It comprises 13 separate measures including assistance for:

  • employing new people;
  • exports;
  • innovation;
  • developing domestic suppliers; and
  • the purchase of productive assets.

For your convenience, please find our summary of the measures and their eligibility requirements HERE.

Open Call for the Executive Study Tour in Toronto

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Macedonia2025 is proud to offer a program that combines participation in Executive/Leadership Development courses at some of the top Executive Education Centers in North America with job shadowing at a renowned company.

This program is designed to provide Macedonian talented executives with a complete North American experience through access to some of the best executive education programs and some genuine business experience in North American companies.

The program is implemented in cooperation with the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC) at York University in Toronto, Canada. SEEC is an integral part of the Schulich Business School at York University in Toronto, Canada. SEEC provides an education that is focused, practical and immediately applicable. They share a common interest in providing and delivering executive education to professionals from Macedonia. This program will increase participant’s competencies and performance in a continuously changing global business environment. This program also offers a unique networking opportunity that can help export-oriented companies promote their products and services to the global markets.

Schulich Business School, being a part of the York University in Toronto, Canada is ranked among the TOP 10 World Business Schools by The Financial Times, Forbes Magazine, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal and the Economist. Founded in 1966, the Schulich School of Business employes over 750 people.

Schulich has an internationally diverse faculty and student body. The faculty is drawn exclusively from both practitioners and academia, and each is an acknowledged leader and innovator in their field. Executive development at Schulich is all about this kind of “just in time” learning, focused, practical and immediately applicable to the task at hand.

For more information about the Study Tour, contact 

Download the Open Call HERE

Download the Application Form HERE

Macedonia2025 Weekly Op-Eds: FDI Landscape in Macedonia

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After a poor 2017, growth looks like it might be picking up again in 2018. But when we look at FDI more closely we can see that these results are not being driven by new investment (direct investment) but instead are being driven by existing foreign companies’ reinvestment of earnings and debt income (graph 1). Our estimates shows that foreign investment in new companies in Macedonia has been trending down over the last four years. Foreign investment in new companies generally delivers the strongest benefit to the economy through new capital works and new jobs.

Graph 1:


Existing FDIs continually tell us of the importance of after-care. This is not only important in keeping existing foreign investors happy but also in attracting new foreign investors. Any serious new foreign investor asks existing foreign investors about their investment experience in Macedonia. One of the best ways we can improve the experience of foreign investors is by improving investor after-care.

Related to after-care but also connected to the initial engagement with FDIs in Macedonia is that there are too many ministers and government organizations operating in the FDI space. During our 2018 Summit, Andrew Wrobel from the ‘Emerging Europe’ magazine reported that some potential investors in Macedonia were confused about who in the government to deal with and were left with a very poor impression when different government bodies began openly arguing about who was meant to help them. We have documented similar reports from a number of potential and existing investors. Macedonia needs to provide a clear path for FDI engagement. We need to know clearly which minister and body is responsible for which area, country, industry, etc. so that we can approach the right person when the time comes.


Another observation is that we could be more proactive in seeking FDIs by ensuring we have up-to-date and relevant promotional materials to give to interested parties.  It would be highly beneficial if the country develops standardized documents as guidelines on issues such as: what the key strategic sectors are, data on skilled workers, how many students graduate at, etc. The civil sector doesn’t always have the resources to compile such comprehensive research so it needs to be made a priority. We are fully aware and supportive of the goal of the government to attract high tech, smart companies that provide highly paid jobs. However we’d like to hear more on the “how” we will be positioning and promoting the country as such a destination.


During our meetings with different government institutions and civil servants; the feedback has been different and it usually depends on the competences of the individuals that work at the government and their willingness to help. However, there should be a transparent mechanism and a process of how can we raise concerns and where, and how we escalate problems that aren’t being progressed.


Macedonia2025 is an international non-for-profit organization. Since the incorporation, 10 years ago, we have worked on attracting FDIs to Macedonia, including investors from the Macedonian Diaspora. We are an independent organization that aims to be the voice of the business community, especially of the FDIs and the Diaspora investors. We act as an independent broker in summarizing the needs of the business sector and then in undertaking initiatives to publicize those needs and resolve the problems.

We have undertaken a number of initiatives, such as the promotion of the benefits of the FDIs, the potential negative impact from the proposed increase in personal income tax, the retroactive VAT charges to BPO companies for oversees services, the lack of proper investor after-care for small investors, the needs of providing the business diaspora with a one-stop-shop system of getting all the documents that they need in order to come back and invest, etc.


Biljana Markovic Stamenova, Executive Director

Brendan Filipovski, Research Manager

Economic and Business News

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A recap of the key economic headlines and research for Macedonia in the last quarter. What do I need to know?

  • 10 July – Macedonia ranked 84 in 2018 Global Innovation Index, down from its 2017 ranking of 61. However, the report notes that Macedonia’s result has a 90 per cent confidence interval of 20 places – link (p329)
  • 11 July – The Governments signed a new three-year framework agreement with the UN’s FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) to continue with agricultural reforms such as income diversification and land consolidation – link
  • 13 July – US firm Telamon to invest 11 million in a factory to produce electrical component for the automotive industry – link
  • 16 July – lack of skilled labor (22.7 per cent) is the biggest barrier to future growth for the food industry according to a survey of managers – link
  • 18 July – The EU announced a temporary 25 per cent tariff on steel imports that exceed the average from the previous 3 years. The tariff is in response to recent US tariffs on Europe. The tariff may affect local steel producers – link (EU press release) and link (article in Macedonian publication Kapital)
  • 26 July – Ministry of Internal Affairs investigating reports of conflicts of interest in funds awarded to companies by the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development – link
  • 6 August – a report by the Macedonian E-Commerce Association (Асоцијација за е-Трговија за Макеонија) found that the value of online orders made from Macedonia increased by 21 per cent in 2017. However, the number of people who are ordering online remains relatively low at 20 per cent – link
  • 6 August – interview with the President of the newly founded Macedonian Banking Association. “The main goal of the newly formed Macedonian Banking Association is to improve the banking operations and the banking sector in the country, as well as to increase the already significant banking contribution to the national economy”. – link
  • 7 August – Macedonia ranked 28th in the World in wine exports according to recent data – link
  • 8 August – Komercijalna Bank and Balfin group buy Tirana Bank – link
  • 9 August – Council of Europe’s anti-corruption group, GRECO, reported that Macedonia has made “… no substantial progress in implementing recommendations on preventing corruption among MPs, judges and prosecutors” since the last report in 2014 – link
  • 13 August – Tourist numbers up 16.1 per cent year-on-year in the first half of the year, foreign tourists up 19.8 per cent – link
  • 23 August – Macedonia2025, MASIT, and the American-Macedonian Chamber of Commerce present a joint position paper to the Minister of Finance advising against the Progressive Personal Income Tax – link
  • 28 August – Government increases size and changes location for a proposed new medical center in Skopje cancelling an EU €70m loan. The new plan will likely require a larger budget – link
  • 30 August 2018 – Government issues new criteria for subsidies for low-cost airlines: includes two new routes from Skopje and four new routes from O14 Ehrid – link
  • 30 August 2018 – new regulations to be introduced to encourage ‘Business Angels’ for startups – link.
  • 31 August – Minister for Economy proposes increased price for mining concessions – link
  • 31 August – New law will allow companies to borrow up to 100m euros at low rates from the European Investment Bank – link
  • 3 September – Opening of joint customs check on Macedonian-Serbian and Macedonian-Albanian border with the aim of reducing waiting times – link
  • 5 September – Government approves plan for joint customs check at Albanian-Macedonian border – link
  • 14 September – The Economic Chamber of Macedonia, MASIT, the Economic Chamber of Northwest Macedonia, and the Macedonian Chamber of Commerce send a letter to the government asking that the introduction of the Progressive Personal Income Tax be delayed for 5 years to allow further consultation with business – link
  • 14 September – The Government and World Bank has awarded €1.5m to three business accelerators: UKIM, Seavus, and ICS for a three year program – link
  • 18 September – In accordance with the new law on energy, the Government has released the tender for a universal supplier of household electricity. Companies will be able to choose their own electricity supplier – link
  • 18 September – Macedonian citizens will be able to use their Macedonian driving licenses in Germany – link
  • 20 September – Government borrows 10m euros from the EBRD to build a two lane highway between Kriva Palanka and Deve Bair in Bulgaria – link
  • 21 September – Prime Minister Zaev meets with Vice President Pens in Washington – link
  • 28 September – Flight between Athens and Skopje to start on November 1 – link
  • 28 September – Official launch of €250m business and housing development in downtown Skopje, surrounding the city museum – link
  • 1 October – Official results from the name referendum – link
  • 3 October – Macedonia and Serbia to construct joint railway station on the border – link
  • 4 October – World Bank quarterly report on Western Balkans notes the rebound in the Macedonian economy with increased consumption and investment. The report also advises caution in maintaining fiscal balance going forward. It saw the recent underspending by the Government as a positive. Forecasts for 2018 and 2019 are 2.5 and 2.9 per cent up from the Spring forecasts of 2.3 and 2.7 per cent – link
  • 9 October – Interview with CFO of Euromax regarding the Ilovitza-Stuka project. It is projected that revenues from the mine could increase Macedonian exports by 4 per cent – link
  • 16 October – World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report released – Macedonia ranked 84th. Macedonia was not ranked in 2017 and was ranked 60th in 2016 – link
  • 25 October – it is reported that the Government has only spent 27 per cent of its initial budget for the construction – link
  • 26 October – First E-Commerce conference in Macedonia. One key point from the conference is that Macedonia ranks second last in terms of the percentage of citizens who are online shoppers (20 per cent) – link
  • 26 October – An article from local business magazine Kapital criticizing the small benefit the Macedonian economy receives from its mining concessions – link
  • 28 October – EU threatening to pull 36m euros from the development of a regional landfill due to disagreement with municipalities – link
  • 31 October – Macedonia improves one place to no. 10 in the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business Survey” – link
  • 7 November – By 2023, a new border crossing between Macedonia and Greece in the Prespa region – link
  • 13 November – PM Zaev announced potential future ban on wood, coal, and oil heating for private citizens with the goal of reducing air pollution – link


Article by Brendan Filipovski, Research Manager