Klaus Mock, Help – Hilfe Zur Selbsthilfe, Regional Coordinator For Montenegro And Serbia:

Assisting People Towards Self-Reliance

There are many factors that influence the establishment, development and sustainability of a business, no matter how big or small it is

Help’s projects aim to ensure the sustainable economic empowerment of the targeted groups of the population and why Help pays special attention to the criteria in the process of selecting potential future entrepreneurs who will not only be able to provide for themselves but also employ more workers.

Your humanitarian organisation has spent a decade and a half helping vulnerable groups in Serbia, but also providing material and professional assistance to families in their self-employment and the establishing of small and micro enterprises. To what do you owe such good results?

– The criteria developed by Help over the years ensure the right candidates receive our assistance through not only in-kind grants, but also education, business and vocational training and regular mentoring. Once the candidates most likely to succeed are selected, the entire “package” of economic empowerment ensures not only their “survival”, but also that they improve and polish their skills and competences, giving them a competitive advantage and growth potential.

Around 85% of businesses supported so far by Help generate income, and 74% generate profit and employ additional workers thanks to those very criteria, as well as additional support in education and business and vocational training. The principle of constant learning and development has been woven into the very fabric of the support provided by Help, as it stands in the name of our organisation “Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe” – assisting people towards self-reliance.

Courage, resilience, focus and constant learning are the characteristics mostly portrayed by our beneficiaries, and those are equally important for an entrepreneur

In your opinion, what kind of assistance has a greater impact: donating for humanitarian purposes or educating and training vulnerable groups to be self-sustainable?

– Since 1981, Help has been committed to providing people in need with prompt, sustainable and long-term aid and support worldwide. People are the focus of everything we do. Being active in 24 countries worldwide, with donor support Help has gained significant experience and knowledge in management of not only emergency relief projects, but also sustainable development. Meaningful, immediate humanitarian assistance is as important as continuous education and training to reduce the vulnerability of people and their communities, empowering their self-reliance. And we can see that in all our projects in Serbia, most recently after the floods, or those for refugees and migrants, as well as for the vulnerable local population or marginalised groups. Emergency relief is important to ease and facilitate the aftermath effects. However, in the long term, assistance based on sustainable development and the economic independence of vulnerable households provides a lasting impact, not only on the vulnerable communities and their members, but is also reflected, step by step, at the global, country level.

In your experience, how open are members of vulnerable groups to launching businesses, given that such solutions imply total change and a specific way of thinking?

– With a portfolio up to this year of nearly 7,000 beneficiaries in income generating activities and a total of 45 million euros of donor assistance provided in Serbia, our experience shows that people, especially those belonging to vulnerable sections of the population, are even more open and willing to consider new perspectives that can change their lives for the better.

Courage, resilience, focus and constant learning are the characteristics mostly portrayed by our beneficiaries, and those are equally important for an entrepreneur. Considering Help’s experience, criteria, standards and applied methodologies, we are confident in our beneficiaries and their will to change their perspective and embrace every possibility to make it work for them and their families. They are willing to learn and prosper with our assistance, because they know they are not alone on that path to self-reliance.