Working in tandem on engaging the French-Serbian business community and supporting French companies interested in the Serbian market, French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (CCIFS) has grown to become a leading French-Serbian business network, an institution that has brought together more than 120 members and organises over 40 events annually, and which has – in the first decade of its existence – supported hundreds of French companies interested in doing business in Serbia.
GALA EVENING AND ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, MARKING 10 YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP IN ACTION
The gala evening of the CCIFS, as one of the Chamber’s most exclusive and attractive events, was held on 6th June in Belgrade and brought together over 200 officials, diplomats, businesspeople and figures from public life. This year’s Gala evening was simultaneously a celebration of the great jubilee marking the first decade of the CCIFS’s existence and its work on French-Serbian friendships and the promotion of economic cooperation between these two friendly countries. A dynamic and interesting evening programme, featuring a fashion show and tombola lottery, to the accompaniment of the elegant sounds of an electric violin, guaranteed a great atmosphere from the very beginning.
The Chamber utilised this occasion to award two traditional Grand Prix awards, one in the field of corporate social responsibility that went to Tigar Tyres for implementing its Family Day of Health and Safety project, and the other in the field of innovation, which was presented to comany Quantox Technology for the project “Business Internet Network”, which is a tool for creating websites and online shops. Special awards were also presented to the second generation of attendees of our start-up accelerator, Between and Super Bake. The annual gala evening has been among the most important events organised by the CCIFS since 2013.
EVENT BOOSTER – THE FIRST EVENTS ORGANISATION FAIR IN SERBIA
Where to organise a corporate celebration? How to choose the perfect decorations, photographer, music, catering? In which way do you make your event unique, and ensure that it remains memorable? These were just some of the many questions answered by the CCIFS with the organising of the first events-organisation fair in Serbia, EVENT BOOSTER. In the beautiful atmosphere of Belgrade’s Hotel Metropol, on 13th June 2019, over 20 exhibitors presented their range of products and services intended for the organising of events.
This exclusive fair, organised as a networking-reception event, brought together 150 selected guests, representatives of marketing, PR, procurement and communications, who were able to acquaint themselves with excellent offers of venues, decorations, music, photography, technical requirements, agencies for organisation etc.
Event booster is a fair that the CCIFS will continue to hold in the first half of each year. The French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce already realised a fair of corporate gifts in October 2018, which will be held again this autumn.
BUSINESS FORUM FRANCE-BALKANS
Under the organisation of the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Business France, and with the support of the Embassy of France and the Alliance of French Foreign Trade Advisors, over 450 companies from France and 13 countries of the region gathered in Belgrade, from 30th May to 1st June 2018, for the Forum France-Balkans, which was aimed at promoting regional cooperation and the Balkans as a business destination. The forum was jointly opened by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, Special Envoy of the French President for the Balkans, Alain Richard, and Assistant Director of Business France, Frederic Rossi.
During the three days of the forum, 450 companies were able to participate in over 1,000 organised B2B meetings, two plenary sessions and six sector-specific round-tables, while they also had a number of networking opportunities, the highlight of which was the Gala Evening at the Embassy of France, where guests were welcomed by French Ambassador Frederic Mondolini, French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce President Dragoljub Damljanović and Senator Jean-Yves Leconte.
TEAM FRANCE BALKANS
The French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce initiated the launch of a regional team for supporting French companies on the markets of the Balkans – Team France Balkans. The idea to establish Team France Balkans emerged in 2012, when the CCIFS hosted the Meeting of Regional Directors of French Foreign Chambers from the PECO zone (CEE – Central Eastern Europe), bringing together over 30 directors who are our associates.
Team France Balkans includes French chambers of commerce or business clubs in Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia (through cooperation with the Association of Macedonian Chambers of Commerce), while the market of Bosnia-Herzegovina is also covered, with the CCIFS having started activities there two years ago. Team France Balkans is a regional support network for French companies interested in operating in the countries of the Balkans, and it is particularly significant that this network is also recognised in France as the main address for all companies and business players interested in any of the Balkan countries. Inquiries from companies for the entire territory of the Balkans are managed by the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, with which the support network for the arrival of French companies has been strengthened and expanded.
From 2013 to the present
This is one of the CCIFS’s most important events, which aims to promote French products, expertise and culture through a series of happenings organised throughout the week at several locations in the capital and beyond. French Week is connected to the third week of November, specifically the third Thursday of the month, when the evening of young French wine, Beaujolais nouveau, is traditionally celebrated.
French Week was organised by the Chamber for the first time in 2013, when it was officially opened with a spectacular 3D projection on the façade of Belgrade City Hall, a projection that evoked the historical links between Serbia and France. In the following years, the rich and diverse programme of French Week provided the most diverse events, among which we would highlight an online job fair, an online map of French products, workshops on gastronomy, baking and wine, student debates, exhibitions at the Nikola Tesla Museum and the Yugoslav Cinematheque Film Archives, the painting of a mural of the Little Prince on the façade of the Vladislav Ribnikar Primary School, and much more.
From the 2009 inception until today
During the ten years of the CCIFS’s existence, we have organised over 400 events of various forms, which have presented, and which continue to represent, an opportunity for members to get to know one another, inform themselves and, of course, enjoy socialising together.
It is at just such networking events that a lot of acquaintances have been made which have grown into business partnerships. Among the wide range of events, we would highlight the Speed Business Meetings, which are B2B meetings with members of other chambers, and which we initiated and pioneered in Serbia.
Then there are International and Summer cocktail receptions in cooperation with other foreign and local associations, monthly meetings and presentations of new members, working lunches with ministers and other institutional partners, hards skills and soft skills training for employees within the scope of the CCIFS Training Centre, thematic workshops and round-tables on current financial, legal and other topics, the event format entitled “10 questions for”, sporting and humanitarian activities to support vulnerable groups and many others.
From 2011 until today
YOUTH SUPPORT PROGRAMMES
From its very beginnings, the CCIFS has supported young people on the road to developing their ideas by announcing competitions each year. The Student Prize, which is one of the initiatives that we are particularly proud of, has been organised since 2011 and aims to promote sustainable development in higher education institutions in Serbia and addresses the university community. Every year, the best works of students are awarded with valuable cash prizes that are awarded by CCIFS member companies. Since 2018, the CCIFS has also launched a mentoring programme under the title “Start-up Accelerator”, which is intended for young people and entrepreneurs who want to start or accelerate the growth of their businesses.
The programme implies free one-year professional support from members of the CCIFS Management Board in the most important aspects of business management (devising a business plan, legal consulting, finances, sales, marketing, project development tracking). Alongside mentoring support, programme users also receive one-year membership in the CCIFS, which gives them an opportunity to expand their network of contacts among directors, managers and other employees of French companies that operate in Serbia.
We would also single out the memorandum on cooperation signed by the CCIFS in April 2019 with the University of Belgrade, while we also have many years of cooperation with the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade and the FEFA Faculty. Several times a year, the CCIFS engages interns, final-year students and graduates, and – through a practical work experience programme – gives them an opportunity to better acquaint themselves with the activities of the Chamber and to become part of our business network.
From 2010 until today
SUPPORT SERVICES FOR FRENCH ENTERPRISES
In the first decade of our existence, we’ve helped many hundreds of French companies in exploring market potential, finding clients and partners, opening branch offices and generally expanding to the Serbian market. The CCIFS is classified in the third, highest category within the network of French chambers of commerce, because it provides a complete service to French companies interested in the Serbian market: from initial information about the market, to opening a company and assistance in its management. The Chamber has for the last eight years been an operational partner of Business France, the state-owned French export promotion agency.
Among many realised projects, we would single out the visit of a large delegation in 2014, when the largest French companies from the water and sewage sector visited Belgrade Waterworks and Sewerage, after which they held B2B meetings with potential partners, or the visit of French businessmen from the rail sector in 2015, when the largest French brands, including SNCF national railways, met with the leaders of Serbian Railways. We should also mention two visits of delegations of French businesspeople to Belgrade in 2016 and Sarajevo in 2017, when meetings were organised for them with representatives of international institutions in both cities. We also regularly organise participations of French companies at fairs in Serbia: we’ve organised several mini-fairs of French wines or organised visits to the Novi Sad Agricultural Fair.
From 2009 until today
ACTIVITIES IN FRANCE
From its inception until today, the CCIFS has promoted and represented Serbia in France through participation in B2B meetings organised by the French regional chambers. Events of this format are organised throughout France (Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg etc.) and aim to point out new opportunities to French companies and to encourage them to launch operations abroad. The CCIFS is also present in France through the CCIFS director’s participation in the work of the Consultative Committee of French Chambers of Commerce abroad, of which she was elected a member in 2017, and which – in addition to coordinating the work of French chambers – also works on the reform of French foreign trade support, advocating the one-stop-shop principle.
From 2015 until today
LEBOOSTER – CCIFS BUSINESS CENTRE
Under the scope of support for start-ups and enabling French and Serbian companies to more easily integrate into the local market, in 2015, at our address in the very heart of Belgrade, we opened the LeBooster Business Centre, with an offer of offices, office areas in a co-working space, virtual offices and conference rooms in a unique French touch environment.
Enterprises can register a company at our address, or rent a work desk or office for a certain period with the full logistical, business and networking offer of our chamber. As an additional privilege, by utilising our Business Centre, individuals and businesses become part of our business community, gaining access to our network of contacts and the numerous events that we organise.