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Serbian YouthBelgrade is Serbia’s capital, with a population of over 1.7 million people. With a 40% youth unemployment rate, large numbers of Serbs were forced to leave the country and search for work elsewhere. Unemployment in Serbia is significantly higher than the European average and one of the country’s significant economic challenges is the need for private-sector job creation. In the last 12 months, Serbia has had 62 startups with $0 in total funding. More than ever, the country is in need of a program like Impact Hub to help Serbian youth.

Impact Hub

Impact Hub was founded in London in 2005 and now has over 7,000 members in more than 60 locations, one of which is Belgrade. The program is funded by USAID and assists young innovators in accessing the tools they need to connect with investors because unsuccessful funding is the biggest obstacle for startups. On Impact Hub’s website, online visitors can become “Impact Angels” and invest in a startup in minutes.

Impact Hub assists in the development of new products and business models. The program focuses on technological innovators and entrepreneurs and the future of their businesses. The organization provides collaborative workspaces, program support, an inspirational environment and diversity.

Impact Hub Belgrade offers young entrepreneurs resources such as acceleration and connections to grow their business. It is both a community center and a business incubator. The program encourages the sharing and building of a community and the space in which the project operates is used to organize events, from arts and culture to entrepreneurship.

Guiding Young Entrepreneurs

Impact Hub founders believe talent allows for growth and production. Since many young people know how to code, design and create innovative solutions, Impact Hub aims at helping  Serbian youth grow their startups. The program secures investments and teaches young people about using money in competitive markets. Impact Hub wants to get young entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone to expand their network. There are two different paths that Impact Hub employees guide entrepreneurs through. The first is “Core Competence for Market Validation,” in which individuals learn how to get the first buyer, expand their customers and make financial projections. The second is “Growth Readiness” and focuses on profiling a buyer, expanding traction and creating revenue models.

Impact Hub Belgrade implemented an initiative called We Founders, in which startup teams, founders, leaders and business developers can connect and work to improve their businesses. Impact Hub helps form partnerships to allow people to share the risks and prepare together for possible losses.

Impact Hub is Positively Impacting

Participants of Impact Hub raised $230,000 in investments from the Serbian public sector and private investors, not including a $100,000 investment from Dubai’s Innovation Impact Grant Program.

Alongside USAID, Impact Hub Belgrade gives Serbian youth the chance to see their innovations and ideas come to life. Outside of Belgrade, Impact Hub is available worldwide to allow individuals the opportunity to receive education regarding the tools and skills necessary for creating a business.

– Rachel Durling
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Serbia

Formerly a part of Yugoslavia, Serbia is a small landlocked country located in southeastern Europe between Macedonia and Hungary. Serbia has an extremely tense history with its neighboring countries as a result of the breaking up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Today, Serbia is quite different. Here are the top ten facts about living conditions in Serbia.

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Serbia

  1. Pollution: Serbia is currently subject to environmental issues in the form of pollution. The capital city of Belgrade is particularly susceptible to air pollution. Water pollution is also an issue throughout Serbia as industrial waste from the cities is known to eventually flow into the Danube. Management of all kinds of waste — domestic, industrial and hazardous — has been poor.
  2. Ethnic diversity: More than 80 percent of the population of Serbia identifies as Serb, with the main minorities being Hungarian and Bosnian Muslims. The Roma people also make up a small minority, along with other people from neighboring countries. Serbians essentially speak the same language as Croats, Bosniaks and Montenegrins, but with slight variations in dialect.
  3. Economy: Serbia’s economy saw huge growth between 2001 and 2008 because of domestic consumerism. However, because of the rapidness of the growth, the economy experienced instability and both internal and external imbalances. The economy has steadily increased since, and as of 2018 is projected to continue in surplus.
  4. Power: Serbia has no nuclear power stations. Instead, they use hydroelectric power and coal as their main energy sources. The largest coal-burning stations are located in Belgrade, and much of the hydroelectric power comes from the Djerdap dam.
  5. Population: With a population of just over seven million, the most heavily populated area of Serbia is the capital city of Belgrade wherein more than one million people live. Despite the large population, the unemployment rate among Serbian youth ages 15–24 is 29.7 percent, which is quite high. As a result, many young Serbians go to other countries to find work.
  6. Trade: Serbia’s main trading partners are Italy and Germany; however, Russia, Switzerland, China and Hungary are also partnered with Serbia. Many countries are not interested in trading with Serbia because of its infrastructure decline. Additionally, Serbia faces problems with corruption that leave potential trading partners skeptical.
  7. Health Care: Healthcare is provided to pregnant women, babies and children up to 15 years of age. Also, students up to the age of 26 are allotted healthcare. All Serbian citizens are granted treatments for diseases and mental illnesses. Yet, one-fifth of the population remains without healthcare.
  8. Family culture: Serbia is a staunchly patriarchal society, as was instilled under the Ottoman rule and can still be seen today. Family loyalty is very important in Serbian culture. Nepotism is a common problem in workspaces and perpetuates the patriarchal motifs.
  9. Leisure: Belgrade and another city, Novi Sad, are the cultural hubs of Serbia, offering extensive nightlife as well as other cultural hotspots. Various cafes, sporting events and galleries are open across the cities to give those living there — especially the youth — plenty to do. The countryside also has a lot to offer with its abundance of places to go if one wanted to experience traditional Serbian life.
  10. Housing: Housing in Serbia has been a problem since the period of civil unrest and throughout the 1990s; hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless. Although Western nations sent aid, only part of the problem was alleviated. Currently, housing is particularly a problem for young people in urban areas.

Though Serbia is a beautiful country and its tourism rates have risen in recent years, the country still harbors a lot of tension because of its past conflicts. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Serbia showcase that while the country has made great strides and developments, there is still room for improvement.

Emily Cormier
Photo: Flickr