Panel: Business angels in the region

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[Read more session reports and live updates from the 2nd Western Balkan Digital Summit]

Moderated by Mr Borko Jovanović (Consultant) the panel addressed business angels in the region and the importance of investing in start-up and innovative individuals.

Mr Edin Saračević (Founder and CEO at Hub387) said that Hub287 was founded with the mission to tackle the issue of brain drain and create an environment of opportunities for young people so that they would not leave the country. He sees an IT sector as a jumping board for other sectors and businesses and hence the need to support the development of start-ups, focus on digital skills and education for the digital age, and address the ensuing process of automation of the labour market. Saračević added that the government could play an important role in this regard.

He also addressed the development of startups in the region, noting that copy-paste models and imitation patterns developed in the West does not necessarily work in the region.

Similarly, Mr Tose Kocevski (President of Business Angels of North Macedonia and President at Pikon Opus Invest) addressed the relationship between government and business angels, stating that trust should be built and the government should acknowledge the importance of investor angels. He stressed the importance of supporting those who finance more in research and development and startups by offering certain incentives, such as tax reduction.

Kocevski proposed the creation of a platform that would gather all business angels in the region, which would increase their visibility and be of great help to a number of newly founded startups.

Mr Ivan Jovetić (Entrepreneur and Researcher) encountered two key problems in the region. The first one is related to the insufficient degree of entrepreneurial spirit, whereas the second pertains to the issue of convincing trades and business persons to invest money in something that is risky, such as investing in innovative startups. Hence, the government should listen to the voices of those trying to do something in this regard by creating rules and enabling infrastructure i.e., provide certain incentives.

Jovetić also criticised universities for failing to prepare students for the labour market. According to him, universities have substantially contributed to rising unemployment as they failed to teach students the core skills expected at the labour market of today and did not create an environment where students can develop creative ideas and implement them.

Finally, Jovetić stressed the importance of co-operation at multiple levels and among all stakeholders, as ‘a single standing tree does not make any difference’.

By Katarina Andjelkovic

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