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Selena Đorđević, Executive Officer of the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia

Time for New Collaborations

Now that the Greek economy is recovering strongly and there is rising interest in cooperating with Serbia, we believe strongly that the time is ripe for our countries to work together on overcoming challenges that hinder new business possibilities

Over the last 15 years, the Hellenic Business Association (HBA) of Serbia has positioned itself as a leading focal point of the Greek business community in Serbia. The HBA introduced a new corporate identity to mark this anniversary.

What kind of symbolism does the new corporate identity represent and what kind of novelty does it suggest in the work of the Association?

– The Hellenic Business Association of Serbia, as a private, non-governmental and non-profit organisation that has been operating in Serbia for 15 years, is excited to unveil its new corporate identity, which pays tribute to the legacy of the Association while conveying its progressive approach to the future. The design rationale for our new corporate identity was founded on the need to have an identity that accurately represents the HBA’s two constituent parts. Through the use of a strong, clean design, the new logo highlights long-term business links between Greece and Serbia, while at the same time reflecting architecturally the thread in the history and heritage of the Hellenic Republic.

In this sense, it visually approaches the national crest of Greece, which consists of a blue escutcheon with a white cross, but it also contains an indispensable part that symbolises the Republic of Serbia, under the red colour. In this way, our new logo essentially represents and announces to the public great support and dynamism in strengthening business relations between the two countries.

Despite the global financial crisis that hit Greece particularly hard, Greek companies have remained on the Serbian market. How many members does the HBA have today and from which areas of business do new members come?

Selena Đorđević, Executive Officer of the Hellenic Business Association of Serbia– It has been proven over previous years that – although Greece is still struggling to cope with internal economic imbalances – its companies have managed to maintain their resilient, stable and recognisable presence on the Serbian market. To our great pleasure, the withdrawals of major Greek banks from the country over previous years did not have an adverse effect on our other members’ status. Thus, the HBA today gathers together about 75 members that operate in sectors including banking, construction, hotel management and heavy industry, telecommunications and the food & beverage sector.

However, according to the latest business trends, this number will continue to grow – as the increasing number of companies that have recently joined the Association, or are expected to join, come from sectors such as transportation, telecommunications and real estate, promising the further development of mutual ties.

Which areas of the economy register the highest interest in B2B meetings?

– In a market that is changing constantly, Greek entrepreneurs are continuously searching through official meetings for new opportunities for collaboration and markets to develop, cost savings and sales growth. In this aspect, Serbia is an area that is very interesting, and it is for that reason that our Association – mainly in cooperation with the Embassy of Greece in Belgrade and other foreign business associations and chambers – constantly organises B2B meetings. A high level of interest has so far been attracted by the sector of construction materials, telecommunications and the food & beverage sector, but we also expect this to extend further to the energy and renewable energy sectors in the near future.

You recently held several important meetings with representatives of Greek chambers of commerce. Which projects and goals do you see as having the possibility for closer cooperation with Serbian companies and business associations?

The new HBA logo essentially represents and announces to the public great support and dynamism in strengthening business relations between the two countries

– The HBA is constantly engaged in searching for new business cooperation opportunities and upgrading existing ones, as well as overcoming possible barriers between Greece and Serbia. In this context, while – on the one hand – it constantly realises plenty of events with major players in the sphere of entrepreneurship, in areas in which good prospects are being created for bilateral business partnerships – such as energy and renewable energy, agriculture and food, telecommunications, real estate, tourism development and the pharmaceutical industry – is also – on the other hand – has to concentrate on resolving any difficulties faced by Greek entrepreneurs in Serbia. Our evidence so far shows that both countries record increasingly better results in their business cooperation each year and that new room for benefits is emerging, but the pace of resolving barriers to doing business is relatively slow. Unfortunately, such obstacles are, for example, still hidden in trade, cargo transportation, construction permits, registering property etc.

As such, in order for the two sides to communicate more effectively, for their problems to be perceived and their business relations to be more consolidated, our Association organises various thematic presentations, seminars and meetings that are aimed at better-acquainting members with the Serbian legislation, market and exploitation opportunities. We believe strongly that the time is ripe for Greece and Serbia to work harder by joining forces to overcome problems that hinder their business possibilities.

What new services will you offer your members this year?

– Generally, this year the Association will try to further upgrade its services and adapt them, primarily to the needs of members, but also to the needs of Greek entrepreneurs interested in Serbia. In our view, needs that should be covered in greater depth relate to information. Thus, our plans for 2019 are focused on conducting informative seminars and presentations that are suitable for different sizes and types of businesses, providing processed and published information on specific topics and guidance on investment and financial opportunities in the country and, of course, improving the existing permanent dialogue between the HBA and institutions of the system in Serbia and Greece.

How would you like to see the HBA advanced in 2023?

– Since the results of the HBA’s work so far are very positive, we believe that the Association will have the honour of celebrating its 30th anniversary together with its members and friends. Looking ahead, we are convinced that the future success of the Association will be determined by its strategic development into a major, respected, dynamic centre of community influence, focusing even more on not just traditional business issues, but on the overall financial health and well-being of the Greek community in Serbia.

Most importantly, a progressive HBA will enjoy a sustainable growth business model and will increase the size and scope of its membership umbrella by soliciting a more diverse membership and will energise the economic pulse of the Greek business community.