Creative students are the entrepreneurial potential of BiH

From dreaming about ideas to serious projects

March 7, 2023


The creative students who won awards for their business ideas at the BizVenture Championship showed that they could be the great entrepreneurial potential of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Participating in the student entrepreneurship competition allowed them to turn their business ideas into serious business projects and plans.

The winners of the BizVenture Championship, Marija Stojaković, Nirvana Mahovac and Selma Fočo, began their stories with the same words: "Everything started from an idea that was swirling in my mind". They had no idea that the fun simulation game - BizVenture - would lead them to create a serious business plan to improve and develop their business ideas. By winning the first three places at the BizVenture Championship, they showed their readiness to step into the world of business.

Participants of BizVenture championship

Entrepreneurship with environmental awareness

The invitation to participate in the BizVenture Championship for Marija Stojaković, a Faculty of Science and Mathematics student at the University of Banja Luka, came at the right time. She saw an opportunity to design in detail her unusual business idea that she had been thinking about for months.

Marija Stojaković

"Imagine the first production of lanolin in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lanolin would be extracted from domestic, untreated, completely natural sheep's wool that is authentic to our country, and as such it would be an eco-product widely used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry due to its beneficial characteristics."
Marija Stojaković on her winning idea

Stojaković points out that the production of lanolin would help people in terms of health, aesthetics and economy, but it would also stop the throwing and burning of wool in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Lanolin is obtained from wastewater in the process of washing wool, so the waste becomes a raw material from which a quality product is obtained, and the process of extracting lanolin is very simple and economical", explained Stojaković.

Although it all started with a simulation game that helped her create her idea, the young woman from Banja Luka admits that through working with mentors, she first became familiar with the potential challenges in entrepreneurship when it comes to the path of an idea to realization.

Inspiration from small family businesses

The BizVenture Championship was organized for the second time by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), within the project "Economic Governance for Growth" (EGG) which is funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, in cooperation with the University of Banja Luka and the University of Sarajevo.

The BizVenture Championship lasted from 11 November last year until 3 February this year, when the final event was held in Sarajevo. The three girls who won the first three places will receive mentoring support from the universities in Sarajevo and Banja Luka for further development and improvement of ideas.

The goal of the Championship is to enable students to gain new knowledge from the basics of entrepreneurship by playing a simulation game, testing their business idea in the virtual world, and having fun. BizVenture is a simulation entrepreneurial game developed through the IT Girls initiative implemented by UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women, whose development was financed by Sweden.

After attending a presentation on the BizVenture Championship at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Sarajevo, 21-year-old Selma Fočo says that she had the desire to try her hand at a virtual game and use the opportunity to work on a canvas business model. Her idea was inspired by small domestic businesses that produce natural cosmetics without harmful chemical compounds.

Selma Fočo

“The main motive is to expand the market of these products to protect the health of the skin and body. I want to support local producers who grow the plants that are needed to make natural cosmetics. With that, I would try to encourage students to get involved in this process and thus gain work habits and experience.”
Selma Fočo

Entrepreneurial thinking

Thanks to a useful business idea, Nirvana Mahovac, a third-year student at the Faculty of Economics in Sarajevo, was among the most successful students at the BizVenture Championship. Her idea is based on the transformation of the business culture of companies from hierarchical, closed and disengaged to inclusive, healthy and transparent.

Nirvana Mahovac

“It would be a consulting company that, through work with clients, will strive to create a healthy business environment in which employees feel accepted, valued and have equal opportunities for advancement and training. I thought about this business idea for a long time, but I often put off writing a business plan. Until the BizVenture Championship, I was unable to find the time to devote myself to further developing the idea.”
Nirvana Mahovac

All three winners emphasize that with BizVenture mentors they learned the basics of running a business and learned the challenges of making business decisions.

"By thinking in an entrepreneurial way and working at the micro level, we can develop a satisfied community and a better economy," they conclude.