Azra Sarenkapa, Program Officer for Migration, Embassy of Switzerland Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Municipality of Nevesinje, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has a current population of around 14,000, while some 7,000 of its citizens live abroad. This picturesque town is characterised by a rich, but economically and socially turbulent history, which led many locals to go abroad looking for prosperity. Nataša Čalić is one of them. Back in the 1990s, she had been an employee of a local textile company, before losing her job due to closing down. She left her hometown for neighbouring Montenegro, and 25 years later returned to start up her own textile company, employing some of her previous colleagues. The initiative was supported by Nataša herself, the Government of Switzerland, and the Municipality of Nevesinje. The latter also provided the workspace, old and unused military barracks. The newly established company produces custom-made work- and sportswear for buyers in the country and abroad. It employs ten previously unemployed women, most of whom are the only wage earners in their families. Support by the Government of Switzerland came as part of the Migration for Development Project, a joint initiative by the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, the Government of Switzerland, and United Nations Development Programme. The project was implemented in the period 2013 – 2015, with the aim, among others, to strengthen the capacities of local governments to boost economic ties and cooperation with the diaspora. It encompassed ten local governments, resulting in 70 jobs created or maintained, and additional annual revenue for agricultural producers of 1.3 million BAM (app. 760,000 USD).
Related information: Mainstreaming the Concept on Migration and Development (M&D) into relevant Policies, Plans and Actions in BiH, bit.ly/1UIMuxo