Is there hope for Osijek yet? Davor Pavuna thinks so…
With increasing negative migration there is much focus on how to encourage entrepreneurs to stay in the region. Daily bus lines departing from all across Baranja, is a sure sign that something needs to be done at a grassroots level.
In recent months, there is a sense of change in the air, and one that is refreshing to see. Academics, City officials, and private business are working together on solutions for the future of Osijek.
Osijek educated quantum physicist Davor Pavuna is determined to share his worldly knowledge and wisdom with his colleagues and peers. Shaking up the local population to the real potential Osijek and the surrounding region have to offer. Davor has a clear message for Osijek and beyond; He said to us ”The infamous California (hype) is all about ”dreams” and yet Osijek can and will be charming and relaxed, yet competitive and prosperous” he further calls upon the population ”My dear friends, wake up and stop following those hypnotised media, and start to manifest your true innermost dreams: Create your own paradise. I live in mine!”
The facilities at the University of Osijek have produced some of the world’s respected academics. Along with other academics such as Prof Ante Lauc, there is a desire to share knowledge that empowers the population.
Creating awareness of the ”cloak-and-dagger” illusions portrayed in the mainstream media is at the heart of societal issues. Scientists can demonstrate successful formulae that support their claims of living in love and freedom. This is a contentious issue which appears to be at odds with the official narrative. For this reason alone, more and more are raising awareness of the truth, that will encourage others to follow suit.
Pavuna comments ”Every single person, should make her/his own effort and wake up and release awareness: YES, I can, YES, we can create our paradise!” He goes on to say ”We have no illusion that all will participate, but 3% of the population is sufficient for the phase transition. So that we totally re-create the Osijek that I remember in my youth: a charming lively city with happy people and great fun! Prosperous with its own character and style,”
As the academic’s gather momentum towards re-educating the future generations, on the ground, there are also encouraging signs appearing. Many entrepreneurs are faced with a myriad of ideas and potential to grow but are under capitalised. Millions of euros are available in funding assistance, but very few are aware of what is exactly available. Funding is available from all public sectors but the issue comes from a lack of information.
On Friday, the Mayor of Osijek Ivan Vrkic extended an initiative called ”IZI to Potpora”, to entrepreneurs of the region. The technology is the brainchild of Tanja Kovačević Director of Zagreb based Kota Project doo. IZI was co-funded by the City of Zagreb, and today has information of over 600 various funding calls from across Croatia.
During the launch of the initiative, Vrkic mentions his desire to assist business of all sizes and recognises the positive impact commerce plays in a community. As funds are invested in small companies, these will return to the local economy through employment and expenditure. Initiatives of the City of Osijek are a sign of a change regionally, that will encourage others to reconsider their actions.
Speaking to Total Croatia News, Tanja says ”SMEs do not believe they have a chance to get non- refundable assistance from EU funds. We are here to support them with quality information that will help to grow their business with financial help from EU funds.” She further goes on to say ”Our application will have a great impact on the growth of investments in Croatia. For example, in 24 hours from our presentation in Osijek, we have already received a few companies interested in non- refundable EU and national means.”
What is disappointing to note perhaps is the lack of information to the Croatia Diaspora, who are an essential key to the future. Many who wish to invest in their ”homeland” simply are not aware of the extensive non-refundable funds available. Tanja mentioned “In 2016, the Croatian Government issued calls for investors to the hotel sector. What they did not mention at the time was the possibility of up to 45% of investment funds being refundable.”
Ultimately, this is public information that will attract ex-patriate investors to Croatia, and in effect shares the risk. Perhaps this raises a question about the efficiencies of information agencies in Croatia on a national level. On the surface, it appears in Osijek that creating a positive environment for the future is essential.
Local politics and science have agreed on this matter. When we have the message endorsed by our own native experts it is time to listen clearly.
With the current status of various government agencies processing funding applications, one has to ask, can the system cope? We’re aware there is a tremendous backlog of applications and appeals of previous decisions. In many cases, the agencies are not respecting the legislative timelines stipulated for handling appeals. This is a concern for many businesses that have already spent a great deal of time and money on applying for funds.
Ultimately, the inefficiency within the official agencies is a wheel that needs to be oiled. Creating a new system of assessment would perhaps greatly streamline a daunting process. Civil servants are not entrepreneurs and find it hard to interpret visions or even understand the location of projects. A person in Zagreb has no idea what rocks in Osijek for example.
A suggestion to transfer the power of approval to a regional level is a step in the right direction. This work could be contracted out to expert consultants who are already engaged in the field. A simple change that will re-install faith to a system, that on the surface, is failing entrepreneurs across Croatia.
The government has to begin to think about its role, and how it serves the very citizens that employ them. It has to listen to those that are driving the economy forward, and have the will to take calculated risks towards investment. Entrepreneurs understand the factors that affect it’s market and potential, one thing that many in government shall learn.
Osijek as a City has fully opened the doors to cooperation, initiative, and progression, and welcomes new ideas towards a progressive society. What is also very encouraging is that there is not one political party leading the town forward. Perhaps a lesson to the other Cities of Croatia that are tired of playing the same fiddle! To find out more about the IZI to Potpora application, click here.