East Sarajevo: A Bright Business in the Shade

Ambassador Patrick Moon and Srdjan Vranasevic (center) spoke to press on Monday at the Eden Garden factory in East Sarajevo
In a small, converted farm in East Sarajevo, Milenko Vranešević and his son, Srđan, have created a thriving global company and are providing further evidence of the potential of Bosnia and Herzegovina to succeed.  Thanks to the family’s entrepreneurial spirit and a bit of technical assistance from the United States, the Eden Garden Company is now boosting international sales of its innovative patio umbrellas.  

The company is a beneficiary of the Fostering Interventions for Rapid Market Advancement (FIRMA) project, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA).  

“Thanks to USAID, we entered the Croatian market, which is very important to us,” Srdjan Vranesevic told me when I visited the factory on Monday, February 27, adding, “Croatia is now buying 30 percent of our products.”  

Too many politicians here continue to fan the tired old flames of ethnic division in the Balkans.  I wish they would spend more time listening to small business owners, like the Vraneševićs, who are focused on creating jobs and putting their talents to productive use.  This Bosnian Serb-owned factory supports 15 workers and their families in East Sarajevo: They don’t care if their umbrellas provide shade to Croats, Bosniaks, Serbs, or Floridians.   

Eden Garden could support even more jobs if not for a bureaucracy that has slowed their expansion.  Their request for a construction permit has been delayed.  Their trucks often spend all day waiting for a customs inspection.  To business people, time is money, and I again call on politicians in BiH to work together to make the business climate more friendly to entrepreneurs who can create jobs.