September 1, 2020 – There are several Croatian bubbles of positivity which are starting to connect, and the entrepreneurial eco-system is getting stronger.
Last year I wrote an article called The 3 Stages of Learning for Foreigners in Croatia: Love, Hate & Nirvana. It took me about 15 years to get to the final stage, but it was well worth the journey.
To save the rest of you lots of time, the essential things you need to figure out is to accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. Then make your peace with the Mighty State of Uhljebistan in the same way that a Norwegian alcoholic pays his alcohol tax to be able to drink and enjoy the wonderful life in Norway. Simply pay the uhljeb tax here, the price of living in Croatia, arguably the lifestyle capital of Europe.
And surround yourself with positive people. In a society which is default negative, it is easy to assume that there are no positive stories in Croatia, as they are rarely told. But the number of positive people doing incredible things here is astounding.
Reaction to the article – and similar ones I wrote – was significant, but not a reaction which I had anticipated. It emerged that there were many positive people here in Croatia who were living in their own bubbles all over Croatia. They loved Croatia and the lifestyle but despised the system, so they kept a low profile, quietly went around their business, and enjoyed their own little Croatian bubble, which consisted of their friends, family, nature and their home.
As I wrote more articles of the same ilk, more of these bubbles started to connect to TCN, and I was amazed at the success stories that exist here right under our noses that few know about and even less celebrate. Simply by telling and celebrating these stories will have an impact on the default negative mindset. What is particularly exciting is that these bubbles are starting to connect now, to become aware of each other. Initiatives such as Glas Poduzetnika (The Voice of Entrepreneurs) is one such example, but there are many others. And the more they connect, the more positive stories come to light, the more the feeling that perhaps things could change in Croatia.
The whole issue of digital nomad tourism and the new digital nomad visa is a case in point. It was an industry that was new to me 18 months ago, and when TCN first started writing about it last year, the response domestically was lukewarm.
That lukewarm reaction has heated up considerably in the last couple of weeks. Back in January, I had a meeting with a Croatian partner about a digital nomad project, to be met by a blank face. That same partner called last week to urgently schedule a meeting to put into action the science fiction I had proposed just 8 months ago. These days, the inbox is filling with enquiries on how to join the digital nomad opportunity. SO MANY people with really interesting perspectives and their own Croatian bubbles of positivity have also got in touch, and it really feels that this is building up a head of steam for real change.
The big breakthrough, of course, was the spectacular progress of the planned introduction of the digital nomad visa, thanks to Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, who seems to have a knack of making Croatian bureaucracy look easy. Just 45 days after an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, and following meetings with the PM and Interior Ministry, a digital nomad visa was brought to Parliament with the full support of the cabinet as an amendment to the Foreigners Act.
Jan’s success is stunning in the Croatian context, but the fun is just starting for him, I suspect. We caught up for a beer after his meeting with PM Plenkovic last week, and he told me of all the people contacting him wanting to contribute, to share ideas, to get some free promotion. Among them, more Croatian bubbles of positivity which now see an opportunity for change and want to connect.
Jan’s latest LinkedIn post shows another high-profile ally on board with the digital nomad initiative, Kostas Nebis, President and CEO of Hrvatski Telekom, as Jan explains:
By Croatia becoming among the first countries in the world to welcome digital nomads, amazing new business opportunities will open up for Croatia’s entrepreneurs.
Thank you Kostas Nebis for your kind invitation and constructive meeting where you have shown that Hrvatski Telekom is ready to do its part and contribute to our joint mission of turning Croatia into the European hot spot for hosting digital nomads.
Svijet boljih mogućnosti
There is a growing swell of support from the entrepreneurs of Croatia – both local and foreign – for positive change. The eco-system out of the spotlight is getting stronger by the day, and slowly – at least I think so – a few more people are starting to believe that change is coming at last to Croatia. Of course there is a long way to go to overturn that default negative mindset, but these are truly exciting times.
Have you connected your bubble of positivity yet?