Creating Networks, Educating the Future, Expanding Commerce: Takeaway From the Canadian Days in Skopje

posted March 11, 2015

(objavata mozete da ja procitate i na Makedonski jazik)

Macedonia2025 is delighted to announce the successful completion of the Canadian Days in Skopje. The event featured more than 30 panelists who shared their insights and carried discussions with a diverse audience of 200 participants. Students, entrepreneurs and business professionals attended the panels that best fit their interests, which resulted in sessions of constructive questions and answers, inspiring further thinking and sideline discussions. Leading Macedonian newspapers and TV stations informed the public about the event.

We would like to thank the Ambassador of Canada to Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, His Excellency Mr. Philip Pinnington, for being with us during the course of the event. That meant very much to the participants who were genuinely interested to learn more about Canada. In his keynote address Mr. Pinnington underscored that he is “pleased that people are interested to learn more about the opportunities for future Macedonian-Canadian trade, economic and educational cooperation.”

There were several items on the agenda of the Canadian Days that will add to the growing awareness about the potentials of Canada. The Embassy’s Trade Commissioner, Djurdja Ceramilac, presented a wealth of information about trade portals, import rules and regulations and resources covering various industries. On the education front, the Embassy’s Education Officer, Olgica Marinkovic, presented details about the famous Canadian education system and the wide range of scientific programs and research disciplines that are offered at universities there.

When it comes to trade, Canada and Macedonia are disproportionate countries in many scales and categories. Trade as per cent of export is miniscule for both, but this inflow is nonetheless very significant for Macedonia. In 2014 Macedonia exported CAN$14.74 million worth of products to Canada which is 0.3 per cent of total export. Macedonian wine could gain more ground in Canada, which is also true for foodstuffs, tobacco and clothing.

However, there are few very important Canadian companies in Macedonia but their impact on the pace of the Macedonian economy is highly lauded. This raises the possibility that more companies will follow and that Macedonian startups will engage with companies in Canada. In his address at the Canadian Days, Minister of Foreign Investments Jerry Naumoff stated that his cabinet is working actively on attracting new investors from Canada.

A fine example of what Macedonia could do in partnership with Canadian schools is the Algonquin College Hotel Education Center’s (HEC) engagement with the Montenegrin hospitality industry. The college’s representative, Prof. Branislav Miljevic presented the series of educational programs which have resulted in the HEC Team Montenegro winning 4th place at the World Culinary Olympics. The spillover effects of the transfer of know-how from the HEC to the country’s tourism and hospitality sector is impacting the level of professionalism and competitiveness of the Montenegrin travel experience. Macedonia, having a number of exciting and unique locations to offer to the world travelers, should seek to cooperate with Canada in that regard. 

The general impression is that there are real opportunities for Macedonia to link with Canada. Those who are pursuing professional and cultural ambitions can enter a conversation with an already present network of Macedonian and Canadian professionals. MK2025 Junior Board member Borche Ilioski presented the ongoing development of the Macedonian Global Professionals Network platform and its Macedonian-Canadian club facet. This network and the Canadian-based educational programs brought to Macedonia by MK2025 will certainly contribute significantly to the prospect of Macedonian-Canadian cooperation.

That Macedonia2025 is helping create an entrepreneurial dynamic with the help of Canada can be felt from the response of the participants at the two workshops headed by Vito Vishnepolsky of Martal Group in Canada and Petar Lazarov of the one of the most exciting Macedonian food brands, MAMAS. Mr. Vishnepolsky presented the ways in which Martal has helped many tech startups to commercialize their products and services, which has resulted in their listing on stock exchanges and gaining serious venture capital. Petar Lazarov spoke extensively about the science behind branding and marketing of products destined for vibrant, high-volume markets such as the Canadian. The lessons presented to the audience of mainly young professionals and college students, we deem are invaluable.

One of the most exciting parts of Canadian Days was the announcing of the call to applications for Canada-based educational programs which are organized in partnership with MK2025. Biljana Markovic and Jordanka Kacarska of MK2025 presented the LEADER Project and the Toronto Study Tour and alumni from these programs talked about the influence of this experience on their professional careers. The response from the registrants at the event was immediate, as we received many requests for the application form and the due date.

This edition of the Canadian Days in Skopje is officially over and the MK2025 office is still reflecting on the impressions. There are many new ideas and ways in which we can streamline how we make an impact on business professionals and entrepreneurs. In that regard we looking forward to receiving the educators coming to Macedonia from Canada as part of the LEADER Project, taking place on May 4-15. This is another example of our fine cooperation with Canada in our efforts to help Macedonia become a better nation.