As part of the ‘Berlin Agenda’, the Chamber Investment Forum was established to ensure maximise the involvement of companies in companies in the development of existing and future infrastructure projects in the region. The drive to promote SME skills forms part of the wider effort to meet the policy requirements of the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA) – the EU’s key policy and monitoring tool to track progress in improving the SME support environment.
This meeting involved high-level EU officials, Presidents and Vice-Presidents of Chambers from a number of EU Member States and neighbouring countries in South East Europe and Turkey (SEET) to work on joint preparation of projects to create better future and economic collaboration.
It brought together business, public policy officials and international experts to create a value chain to boost the competitiveness of SMEs in SEET.
The opening statements to the Conference were done by the host Mr Luka Burilović, President of CCE, followed by Mr Anthony A. Gribben, Head of Enterprise & Entrepreneurship from the European Training Foundation (ETF), Mr Michel Catinat, Head of Unit, Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship from DG GROW, Mr Bernard Brunet, Head of Unit, Thematic Support, Monitoring and Evaluation from DG NEAR, Mr Alain Richard, Special Representative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy in the Balkans and Mr Jasmin Devlić, Head of Directorate for Trade and Multilateral Economic Affairs from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
The Conference was continued with presentations by Mr Marko Marko Čadež, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia: “Perspective of Chambers Investment Forum (CIF)”; Ms Svjetlana Momčilović, Head of Investment Promotion Division, CCE: “Challenges for the CIF countries – an overview of economic situation and potential”; Mr Werner Gruber, Director of the European Union Project Development and Monitoring, Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB): “The role of TOBB in EU integration process – how to support SMEs”; Mr Želimir Kramarić, Vice President of CCE: “Proposal of Joint Projects for a Better Future” and Ms Efka Heder, Director of SEECEL: “The Small Business Act for Europe: prioritising SME skills”.
All speakers gave a special attention to regional markets and national economies which should act as one on third markets to become more competitive on a global level. Therefore, the economic strategies should be in line with real needs and problems. Creation of better future for young entreprenurs and future generations should start now and entrepreneurial mindset is for all where skills have a great role to play for economic growth and future jobs.
Ms Efka Heder, SEECEL Director presented the SBA for EU process. SEECEL´s actions were recognised by other Chambers and as such will be a platform for an active entrepreneurship and human capital development.
Heder highlighted that the human capital is the most important potential of any economy in creating sustainable growth and SMEs are the core of economic growth, innovations, employment and social integration. "New European SMEs, especially the small and middle are creating more than four million jobs each year. Therefore, structural support in improving entrepreneurial competences is necessary for strengthening competitiveness”, concluded Heder.
The meeting established a Regional Platform for Strengthening SMEs in close collaboration with the Turin-based ETF and SEECEL. Both organisations are partners of the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in supporting the EU’s pre-accession region in building more effective SME policies and activities. The afternoon session was devoted to SBA experts´ workshop on SME Skills moderated by ETF and SEECEL. SEECEL proposed further steps to continue its promotion of life-long entrepreneurial learning, including the extension of its online platform to share knowledge and experience of its expert networks and to disseminate good practice. The work of the SME experts was continued on 26 February with finishing workshop exercises and discussion. During the same day, SEECEL organised and hosted a visit to construction site of the future SEECEL building that will serve as a hub for entrepreneurial learning.
The construction site of future SEECEL building has also become a learning space as many schools and faculties have expressed their interest for field visits and apprenticeships.
The meeting also had the opportunity to hear from experts on young people’s business development from the East Flanders Chamber of Commerce (Belgium) whose work on high-potential youth entrepreneurship was recognised as international good practice by the International Chambers of Commerce and ETF at the World Chambers Congress in June 2015.
Ms Efka Heder, SEECEL Director joined Delegations of Chamber´s Presidents for a meeting with the President of the Republic of Croatia, Ms Kolinda Grabar Kitarović to present joint actions of economic collaboration with an aim to create stability and institutional support of policy to business in SEET.
The Conference was also attended by Ms Sandra Rončević, Assistant Director, Ms Sonja Šegvić, Office and Event Manager, Mr Stjepan Srhoj, Programme Officer and Liaison, Mr Thomas Farnell, Entrepreneurial Learning Expert, Mr Tomislav Prodanovski, IT and COP Officer and Ms Mirna Pejić, Intern/Office Administrator.
SEECEL uses this opportunity to give special thanks to all invitees, especially to the European Commission for recognising SEECEL´s efforts in the field of entrepreneurial learning, to ETF for long term partnership and to CCE for being a great host during this two days event.