The French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFS) organises numerous activities for its members – from monthly gatherings to conferences and numerous other activities that provide opportunities for members to get informed, meet new partners and establish dialogue with representatives of the state administration and other interlocutors. Here we review the most important activities of the CCIFS in the previous period.
WHAT IS THE CCIFS?
As the leading French-Serbian business network, the French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (CCIFS) is an association that brings together French companies operating in Serbia, as well as Serbian and other international companies that conduct trade relations with France or French companies. The CCIFS is also a reliable partner to all companies from France wanting to obtain information about the Serbian market or launch a business in Serbia and the wider Western Balkan region. In its efforts to promote French-Serbian economic exchange and facilitate communication between member companies, the CCIFS organises around 40 different events annually.
The CCIFS organises three to four events of different formats per month, which provide opportunities for member companies to get acquainted, obtain information and, of course, enjoy socialising together. It is precisely these kinds of networking events that have enabled a lot of acquaintances to be made that subsequently developed into business partnerships. We would highlight the monthly meetings under the title ’Na čašici razgovora sa’ [‘Conversation over a glass with…’], Speed business meetings, training courses held within the scope of the CCIFS Training Centre, thematic webinars, as well as meetings of the HR, CSR and Sustainable Development clubs.
22.11.2022, EMBASSY OF FRANCE IN BELGRADE
GREEN TRANSITION CONFERENCE
The GREEN Transition conference, organised by the CCIFS in collaboration with the Embassy of France in Serbia and under the patronage of company MPC Properties, was the second conference in the series of events held within the scope of the Quest For Net Zero project that was launched in the context of harmonising the Serbian economy with the EU Green Deal. The conference aimed to present French expertise in the green transition sector and environmental protection through the latest projects of leading French and local companies.
The conference was jointly opened by Ambassador of France to Serbia H.E. Pierre Cochard, Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Dubravka Đedović and CCIFS President Dragan Stokić.
CSR CAMPAIGN “DO SOMETHING DRASTIC TO MAKE WASTE FANTASTIC”
In the autumn of 2022, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia and with the support of its member companies, the CCIFS implemented the CSR campaign “Do something drastic to make waste fantastic”. This campaign was intended for fourth year pupils at primary schools across Serbia and aimed to raise their awareness of the importance of sustainable development and environmental protection. Schoolchildren were invited to use waste to create structures.
The response of schools was exceptional, with the CCIFS receiving 200 applications from various regions of Serbia. Following voting by the jury, but also the general public – with more than 30,000 votes collected – CCIFS member companies awarded 12 valuable prizes to the schools that produced the structures declared as being the best. Following the culmination of the campaign, a two-month photo exhibition of images of the 20 best structures was organised at Belgrade’s Ušće Shopping Centre, in cooperation with MPC Properties.
The CCIFS made its first ever appearance in the major global sporting competition CCIFI Sport Challenge, participating together with French chambers from 24 countries worldwide. The team from Serbia included 10 CCIFS member companies. With the help of a mobile app, we counted our steps and were physically active, while at the same time being socially responsible (part of the funds collected from participation were donated to French organisation SeaCleaners).
In competition among over 550 teams, all teams from Serbia achieved great results, starting with Tigar Tyres, who took 5th place at the world level, while Serbia winning a fantastic 1st place in the country category.
Among the CCIFS’s most attractive events is the annual Gala Evening that brings together 250 guests, including diplomats, businesspeople and public figures. This year’s GREEN Gala was held at Belgrade’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. The CCIFS switched the focus of its operations towards the promotion of sustainable development and emphasising healthy business values last year, and the organisation of this year’s GREEN GALA paid particular attention to reducing the carbon footprint. The same event saw the awarding of the annual Grand Prix in two categories, as well as special awards for members.
The Innovation Grand Prix was won by Generali Srbija, while the CSR Grand Prix went to Schneider Electric. The Chamber also awarded two special prizes: one to MPC Properties in recognition of its special contribution to the Chamber’s activities over the previous year; and the other to Tigar Tyres, which took 1st place in Serbia at the CCIFI Sport Challenge organised at the level of French chambers worldwide. Occupying a special place in programme of the Gala Evening was a fashion show organised in cooperation with the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade and company L’Oreal, in which students presented fashion creations that they made in accordance with the principles of sustainable fashion.
Bonjour Serbia is an event series that was launched at the start of 2022 and aims, on the one hand, to better acquaint the CCIFS with the potential of cities across Serbia in order to better present them to new French companies and, on the other hand, to improve commercial exchanges between CCIFS member companies and local companies.
Events have so far been held in Kragujevac, Niš, Kikinda and Zrenjanin, all of which brought together the highest members of the French diplomatic corps in Serbia, mayors and municipal/city governments, members of the French-Serbian business community, as well as representatives of local companies. Each event also included visits to French manufacturing companies operating in the aforementioned cities: Tigar Tyres (Michelin), Mlekoprodukt, Mecafor and Le Belier.
The CCIFS had the pleasure of participating in the GLOBAL INDUSTRIE fair and presenting the potential of the Serbian market in France for the second year in succession, this time in Lyon. This prestigious event is one of the world’s leading fairs dedicated to the development of industry and international cooperation.
French Week, representing one of the CCIFS’s most significant events, aims to promote historical, cultural and business ties between France and Serbia, while it is held during a period marked by an extremely popular French custom – the reception of Beaujolais Nouveau new wine. The diverse and vibrant contents of the 10th edition of French Week provided guests with opportunities to participate in traditional French Week events: tasting good wine at the reception of Beaujolais Nouveau new wine; learning some secrets of preparing French delicacies at the Gastronomy Workshop; tasting famous wines from French regions at the Wine Workshop; sampling famous French cheeses and other delectable delicacies.
New business links were forged between CCIFS member companies and representatives of local institutions, international organisations, Serbian cities and municipalities at the Green Transition business conference, which aimed to present the sustainable development sector expertise of CCIFS members. Furthermore, the seventh consecutive Online Employment Fair was held throughout the entire week, on the web platform www.francuskanedelja.rs, with visitors given the possibility of touring the virtual stands of participating companies, applying for over 70 advertised jobs and chatting with HR representatives. Completing the programme for young people was a series of webinars for students entitled “After college I shall be…”, at which students received an opportunity to discuss various professions with panellists and receive useful advice regarding their future professional orientation.
SUPPORT SERVICES TO FRENCH COMPANIES
The French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce works continuously to provide support to French companies wanting to develop their business activities in Serbia. We assist companies from France in terms of investigating market potential, identifying potential clients and partners, opening branches and generally doing business on the Serbian market. The CCIFS has been an operating partner of Business France, the French Government agency for export promotion, and a member of Team France Export for 10 years.
More than 200 French companies from the most varied sectors (from industry to services) have placed their trust in us when it comes to assessing the launch of operations in Serbia. We also provide support to companies in the countries of the region, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia. Our LeBooster business centre provides services ranging from the renting of office space to all kinds of assistance in companies’ functioning.