No. 119 | Year X
Second edition of Private Briefing this year can freely be titled “Multiverse” given multiple interleaving and overlapping of tectonic dimension initiatives. We continue the trilogy of macroeconomic framework analyses with the local level. A segment of that framework includes government support programmes which are a mini universe of their own, and we also start analysing subsidies for employing people with disabilities. That initiative is an introduction to the inclusion and diversity support programme, the first of its kind globally. In addition, we analyse start-ups support through GreenTech by STP Čačak and global Dealroom platform.
> Science and Technology Park Čačak implements a program titled GreenTech Startup within the project of promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises and startups in the field of innovative technologies and green economy, with the support of the German Development Cooperation implemented by GIZ. The program aims all interested individuals between the ages of 15 and 35, including teams and students, with innovative idea and preference to start their own business venture based on that idea. Eligible startup ideas need to be focused on green economy areas, including land management, renewable energy sources, waste management, green building, water use and management, and sustainable and clean transportation.
> The goal behind the criteria and the programme is to recognize and support innovative startup ideas with the greatest potential for sustainable development in the field of innovative technologies and green economy, aiming. to reduce the production resources consumption, waste emissions and energy outflow, by slowing down, combining and extending energy and material production cycles. Eligible applicants are startup teams in the earliest stages of developing business idea, with 2 to 5 members. The programme foresees the training lasting 8 days, covering topics such as trends in the startup world, the Lean Canvas model, communication skills and other topics relevant for the formulation and development of the startup business model. Also, mentoring sessions are planned in accordance with the specific startups needs, while the financial support is provided by STP for the development of prototypes or minimally viable products (MVP) that can be tested in the market. After completing the first part, the startup teams will pitch their idea to the commission in the semi-finals. At the final competition, the best 3 teams will be selected to receive financial support, local level sponsorship and space in innovation centers. Also, the winners of the final competition are provided with expert services in the field of law, finance and intellectual property protection to boost the successful implementation.
> The concept of green economy implies an effort to achieve a balanced and positive impact on both society and the environment. In that concept, innovation is an important aspect, and precisely the support to the innovative startup projects that would otherwise have significant challenges to enter the market is one of the key qualities of the GreenTech program. Direct multiple levels support to startup teams, which encounter challenges in developing a sustainable business, provides them with the opportunity to develop their ideas and concepts, test them and overcome initial obstacles, in order to reach the commercialization phase with a long-term perspective and sustainability, through the necessary training and financial resources. Formulating the initial idea in the form of an adequate business plan and projections is one of the elements of Glenfield expertise, so if you need support in that segment, contact us for advice.
> In accordance with the (coming soon!) ten-year tradition, the first issues of Private Briefing in the calendar year bring an overview of the main economic developments in the previous year, along with trend analyses and projections of indicators of the main segments of economic activity. In the previous edition, we have analysed global trends, while in this one we are focusing on local indicators and trends. While 2021 was specific in that after the pandemic and the struggle to preserve the liquidity and substance of business, a “new normal” was imposed as a standard business framework, 2022 was profiled as a “permacrisis” year, shaded by a completely new crisis of global scope and effect. In terms of business framework indicators, after real GDP growth of over 7% in 2021, the estimated growth in 2022, despite the massive disruptions of the global economy, reached 3.5%. This is somewhat lower than the trend of mild growth in the years preceding the COVID crisis, but on average it is significantly below the expected value, in the context of the needs of development and catching up with more developed economies. Gross investments in fixed assets in 2022, measured by real growth rates, are at the same level as in the previous year. The value of construction works in 2022 recorded a real drop of 11.8% compared to the previous year, and agricultural production by 8.0%. In the same period, industrial production recorded a growth of 1.5%, within which the processing industry grew by 1.7%. Turnover in retail trade achieved growth of 6.4%, while turnover in wholesale trade was higher by 19.0%. The volume of traffic and transportation increased by 23.1%, while growth in the accommodation and hospitality services was estimated at 40.6%. Compared to the Western Balkans neighbourhood, the GDP trend is slightly above the lower limit of the framework, ranging from 2.4% in BiH to 7.2% in Montenegro, with an average of 4.1% for the entire region. In that comparison, the result is low, and even more so in comparison with the entire Balkans (4.4%). On the other hand, the growth is slightly higher than the GDP growth in the EU (3.2%), which may seem comforting, but it still means that significantly higher growth rates will be needed to achieve the goals. Nevertheless, preserved growth during the global crisis, with the EU and Russia among the most important foreign trade partners, whose markets were significantly disrupted by the Ukrainian crisis, is a somewhat positive signal for sustainable growth. We can still expect that the key generators of growth will be infrastructural projects, among which the needs in the areas of environment protection, waste management, energy and railway traffic continue to stand out. GDP per capita, although continuously slightly above the average of the Western Balkans, is still significantly below the average of the entire Balkans, and several times below the EU average.
> Inflation reached 15.1% at the end of 2022, which is a strong continuation of the growth trend, being twice as much as 7.5% at the end of 2021 and more than an eleven-fold increase compared to the average of that year (1.3%). Similar to the global trend, as a measure to control this, the Central bank reference rate has increase from 1% at the beginning to even 5% at the end of the year, which is a significant difference compared to 2020, during which the rate was lowered on several occasions, and 2021, when it stood still at 1%. The unemployment rate shift from 10.5% to 8.9% is followed by the stagnation of the employment rate (50% throughout the year), which is close to the level of the previous two years. A strong push towards higher quality of employment and the level of wages is still expected, and is partly achieved through the growth of employment in sectors with a higher level of complexity such as the IT sector, but also due to the increase in the minimum wage as a response to the existence of competitive labour markets, which continue to cause economic migration. In December, the average net salary was 665 EUR, which is significantly more than last year’s 550 and slightly above the average of the Western Balkan region (620 EUR), but significantly below the Balkan region (780) and even more significantly below the EU average (1,980 EUR).
\\ During the year, dinar remained stable in relation to the Euro, while in relation to the US dollar, it fluctuated significantly, ranging from RSD 104 to 120, and at the end of the year it stopped at a value 9.6% lower than at the beginning of the year.
> Foreign trade in 2022, compared to 2021, shows an increase in exports by 23.5% and in imports by 33.0%, reaching EUR 38 billion in imports and EUR 26.7 billion in exports, with the coverage of import by export of 70.8%, about 6% less than in the previous year. At the end of 2022, a total of 435,257 businesses were active in Serbia, with 11,241 companies and 41,628 entrepreneurs registered, or 16.7% more companies and 21.08% more entrepreneurs compared to 2021. Since 9,635 companies and 34,378 entrepreneurs were founded in 2021, the trend is clearly positive, which, along with the strengthening of the GDP growth rate, should also result in overall positive effects at the national level in the coming years.
> While 2020 and 2021 were dominated by measures to support the economy aimed at overcoming the effects of the COVID crisis, which led to the preserved liquidity and substance of the companies, 2022 brought completely new challenges and responses to the economy. According to the available research and analyses, including our own, the inflation was assessed as the most important negative effect of the crisis and consequently, the key aspect of support expected by businesses will be financial support, but also business organization, digitalisation and networking support is deemed necessary. The businesses in general seem to be focused on the improvement of internal capacities, with the aim of taking advantage of the moment in which regional and global businesses are turning to nearsourcing models. Innovations, digitalisation and networking are the necessary conditions for that position to be fully utilised, and support for such direction should be implemented through announced and by now standard support programmes, including those aiming start-ups, women entrepreneurship and other niches, as well as raising competitiveness through innovation. In addition, the current support programmes for the farmers and agro businesses remain active, making our forecast of the support framework titled PIN (Poljoprivreda, Inovacije, Niše) still valid for a decade now. The expected and announced support initiatives for this year are certainly headed by the regular group of programmes implemented by the Ministry of Economy, which we will analyse in the next few issues as they become active. The previously identified trend of support shaping towards increasingly specialised forms, better adapted to the immediate needs of users, is to be expected to continue in 2023, with further segmentation and precise identification of needs. For beneficiaries, this means that support will exist, and that it will be measured adequately, but also that it will be necessary to put effort into providing high-quality analysis, development of business and financial plans, justifying the support to the identified opportunities for improvement. In such efforts, the advice of experienced consultants can be beneficial, and Glenfield consultants are available both for initial analysis and for projections and business plans development and improvementand expectations that are observed globally.
> In response to fast-changing market and regulatory environment, and to the need to adequately support businesses, a new phase of financing and advisory support government programmes for overcoming specific challenges is planned for this year, through already tested but also through some new support models. The programmes that we traditionally analyse are being prepared and we will address them as they are activated. However, one of the aspects that will gain importance is the social entrepreneurship and related topics, since at the end of last year a law was adopted to regulate social enterprises, expanding the scope of adequate support. On the other hand, it sheds somewhat new light on already existing programmes that do not directly concern social enterprises, but still focus on elements of the social economy, diversity and inclusion, and ESG.
One of such programmes is the Employment support program for people with disabilities without work experience, implemented by the National Employment Service (NES). All employers, regardless of their legal form and business model are eligible to apply for these funds, materialized as grants in the amount of 75% of the total salary costs with the associated benefits. The subsidies are disbursed in line with the regulations addressing state aid for employment of persons with disabilities and other regulations on state aid. The total budget of the programme is 550 million dinars and it is a significant incentive for the employment of one of the most common categories of employees traditionally excluded from the labour market.
The subsidy is granted to the employer under the conditions that he employs a person with disability registered on the unemployment register of the NES, who has no previous work experience, and that the said employment provides a net increase in the number of employees compared to the average number of employees beneficiary had during the previous 12 months. In addition, the user is required not to reduce the number of employees compared to the average number of employees during the previous 12 months, except in the case of natural outflow and other justified reasons in accordance with the law and not as a result of technological redundancy.
The employment of persons with disabilities, from the perspective of the employees is of great importance, because it enables inclusion, exercising their right to work, contribute to society and have financial independence and thus be fully integrated into society. For the programme beneficiaries it is clear that they can achieve direct financial benefits, i.e., new employment with a significant reduction of one of the biggest costs. In addition, this programme focuses on the issues of diversity and inclusion, which are gaining importance not only within various support programs, such as the EIB Impact Incentive Loan active in local market, but also in the context of cooperation with partners from foreign markets.
> In the broadest sense, an inclusive culture in the organization encourages cooperation and participation of employees in business, strengthens contribution and innovation, reduces prejudice and discrimination and thereby creates a more efficient and effective business environment. On the other hand, ESG refers to issues of environmental protection, social and governance aspects of business, which also include social responsibility towards employees, suppliers and communities in which the company operates. These concepts are interconnected and complement each other, and in recent years they have gained importance. Some of the ESG elements have already influenced the business development of local businesses, such as the obligation to use “green” energy as a precondition for cooperation with foreign partners, which has been active since this year, and it is certain that this influence will only grow, as evidenced by the global practices but also by the programmes in which we take part in. Therefore, programmes like this one will also gain importance within a wider range of support programs that shape the domestic market and the business framework of entrepreneurs and farmers, in order to further strengthen the integration with foreign markets and fully utilize the opportunities that we have identified in the previous edition of Private Briefing.
> Since recently, Dealroom, an intelligent global database for monitoring innovative companies and identifying growth opportunities, being a leading source of data on startups, growing companies and technological ecosystems in Europe and around the world is active in Serbia. Dealroom is connected with some of the most prominent global investors, entrepreneurs and government organizations, which, in addition to direct access to investors and support programs for start-ups, also provides transparency, a series of analyses and insights into the activity of capital funds. Dealroom does not provide direct investment as it is not a financing platform, however, it has detailed, up-to-date databases through which users can filter investors in detail and identify them by type, capacity, location and other factors that may be important in the process of seeking support.
Dealroom provides investors with quick and easy access to critical data for discovery and decision support during the initial analysis, screening and due diligence process, from early to late investing stage. The data includes detailed descriptions by parameters of sector, business model, source of income, number of employees, stages of growth and ownership, as well as data on financing, growth signals and other indicators of importance
for the investment decision. For companies and founders, Dealroom provides free access to a database of nearly 100,000 investment funds, corporate investors and angel investors. Simple registration and opening an account provides startups with market information and helps to identify the best potential investors for the company, either through direct search and filtering or using a “match making” tool.
> For startups, Dealroom provides an answer to some of the many challenges they usually face. Although it does not compensate for the lack of experience in running a business, or in intellectual property protection processes, or in other challenges related to the organization and business development, the platform is focused on one of the strongest support elements – connecting with potential financial sources and therefore also for the products and services development, marketing and further growth. In addition, Dealroom also contains a portal for jobs advertising, allowing companies to overcome difficulties in finding employees for critical positions, which is also one of the pain points in development for start-up companies. In this context, Dealroom is an exceptional solution that can significantly shorten the period of searching for additional investments and partners and thereby boost the start- up companies in various stages of development. Bearing in mind that the usage is free of charge, this completely digital solution for a series of challenges certainly deserves recommendation for start- ups and businesses with development potential
|KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS
|Feb - 23
|Reference interest rate
|Average net salary - RSD
|Average pension - RSD
|Exchange rate RSD/EUR
|On the last day of the month
|Average exchange rate for the month
|Exchange rate RSD/USD
|On the last day of the month
|Average exchange rate for the month
Disclaimer: this report was prepared and published under the authority of Glenfield Training and Consulting Ltd. and is used only for informational purposes. Information that is used, have been obtained from sources that Glenfield Training and Consulting Ltd. believes to be reliable, but no guarantees their accuracy and completeness. None of the information or the proposal cannot be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission Glenfield Training and Consulting Ltd.