Croatia’s Foreign Entrepreneurs: Ofek Aviv, from Tel Aviv to Zagreb

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1. First and foremost, why Croatia, and what is it you do? 

My name is Ofek Aviv, and I moved to Croatia almost 2 years ago.

My sister was the first one in the family to discover Croatia, she came 5 years ago to study medicine in Zagreb. 

I only came to visit her in the summer of 2019 and planned to stay for one week, but I fell in love with Croatia and discovered business opportunities so I decided to stay. 

I am the owner and founder of Bustan bar, a cultural bar in the city center, on Varsavska 8, just across Cvjetni Trg. 


Bustan, you can tell just from the Arabic name, tries to bring some different energy and thinking to the local bar scene, a mix of local and international creativity and talent. 

2. Tell us about some of the differences of your expectations of running a business in Croatia and the reality

First of all, the bar opened in the middle of the corona crisis, which is just by itself, a very different experience, in any country these days. 

Especially for Croatia, I would say, is how strong the culture affects the business, for the good and for the bad. 

In Israel, we are a young country, a mix of Jewish from across the world, so you don’t have a particular culture or habits. 


Here, there is a strong culture of coffee, smoking in bars, and a more conservative business mindset. 

For example, we tried and keep trying to make connections with the local stores nearby, something that doesn’t cost them and just giving them an added value, and still, many of them that are not used to collaboration, not fully understanding the benefits. 

3.  What (if any) bureaucratical issues have you encountered and how did you overcome them (i.e. any advice to the would-be entrepreneur?)

Oh well, many of them. 

The main issue for me, and from what I hear, also for locals, is that the law in many fields is not written clearly, leaving much room for interpretation. 

So in almost every project you can ask two different lawyers and hear two different answers, which I still haven’t gotten used to.  

4. How is your product or business perceived in the Croatian market?

In the very few months that we are open, and despite the COVID-19 situation and restrictions, I can happily say that the Croatian local scene is very collaborative and we are getting a lot of positive feedback.

I think one of the main reasons is because I am not only trying to promote my Israeli culture, I am focusing more on culture and creativity in general, if you have a passion, we can collaborate. 


It brought to the bar many local talents that we have promoted in Art Bazar, live music shows, and even a teacher that reads stories for kids on Sunday morning.

5. What were the opinions of your friends and community, were they supportive of your idea, or…?

I am a young man, so my friends were very happy of course that I have a bar, but also on a more serious note, they liked the idea and they are joining most of the events, so I had a lot of support and that’s what keeps me doing what I love. 

6.  What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in business in Croatia?

Mostly cultural, the pace of life, pace of work, communication with my team and with suppliers, a lot of things are different. 

And of course, bureaucracy.

7. If you knew then, what you know now, would you have come?

I would, definitely! I would just maybe wait a year or two, living here and learning the lifestyle, before I would go full power and own a business. 


8.  What are 3 things you love about Croatia?

– The authenticity, Croatia still has that soul that many countries in Europe already lost. 

– The people. If you have good intentions, the Croatians will open their heart for you and will not leave you until they know they did their best to help you. Of course, I had also some bad experiences, but as a whole, the Croatians are truly amazing!

– The landscape and beautiful nature

9.  What are 3 things you would like to see improved in the business climate in Croatia?

– More cooperation and sharing of knowledge between businesses 

– Transparency and efficiency from the government

– Reduction of taxes


10.  How is it working with Croatians in terms of a business mentality?

In general, it is great, the locals are full of ideas and there is a lot of talent. Like I mentioned before, you need to adjust to the pace and to other aspects, but it also depends on where you are coming from and what you are used to. 

11. Advice for foreign entrepreneurs thinking of coming to Croatia?

My advice is to live here for at least a year before opening a business, to do proper research, to work with Croatian colleagues, and to try to establish a list of professionals that you can count on and trust.


Like my new lawyer told me recently: when you come to a new country, you need a good dentist and a good lawyer, the rest will be ok. And in the end, when you open your business, do it with your style, and believe in your way. 

To learn more about the foreign entrepreneurs trying to make it in The Beautiful Croatia, check out the heroes we have covered already

Are you a foreign entrepreneur trying to make it work in Croatia and would like to promote your story? Contact us on [email protected]


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