“This is exactly what I needed,” an entrepreneur from Gracanica, Azemina Ahmedbegovic, says at the end of the cultural heritage exhibition organized by the Association of Business Women in BiH in Sarajevo on Wednesday, 5 December 2018. “Sometimes I get discouraged by a lack of opportunity, but this evening boosted my confidence in our work,” she adds with a grin on her face.
Azemina is at the helm of an association from Gracanica promoting a local tradition of distinct lacework and its application in modern fashion. This is one of 16 women-led associations, family business or micro companies from across Bosnia and Herzegovina that took part in the EU-funded exhibition “Woman in the Mirror of BiH Tradition”. The objective was to showcase their work and quality products to potential new clients.
As elsewhere in Europe, the potential of female entrepreneurs remains very much untapped in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Women entrepreneurs need easier access to financing, information, training and contacts. It is important to encourage women, and the experience shows that they can excel at any type of entrepreneurship,” EU Ambassador to BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark stated in his welcoming address.
The Association of Business Women in BiH organized the event with a simple, yet powerful idea in mind: to assemble women entrepreneurs inspired by tradition and cultural heritage, and approach new clients with a joint offer. They presented both their individual products and the “BiH TREASURES” – a basket of the combined products that can be custom-made per client wishes.
“The objective of our association is to empower the economic position of women, as well as to ensure that work the women of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been doing for centuries is preserved as a treasure. By purchasing these products, you also act as protectors of our rich cultural heritage,” the Association President Aida Zubcevic told exhibition visitors.
The evening also featured a fashion show by renowned BiH designer Adnan Hajrulahovic HAAD, who used promoted products – including the exquisite Gracanica lace – for his designs.