March: upcoming Sarajevo Business Forum
And yet another month has passed! So it is time for blog number 3, the March-edition of out monthly blog. This one is all about the upcoming partner event: Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) 2019, organised by our partner Bosna Bank International (BBI) together with the Islamic Development Bank.
BBI is the first and the only bank in Southeast Europe which operates in accordance with Islamic financial principles. The major difference between Islamic banking and a conventional banking system is that Islamic banking is an Ethical Banking System, and its practices are based on Islamic (Shariah) laws. It is asset based financing, in which trade of elements prohibited by Islam are not allowed. For example, you cannot take a loan for a Wine Shop. BBI has been established in 2000 by Islamic Development Bank (45.46% share), Dubai Islamic Bank (27.27% share) and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (27.27% share). Today, BBI has 31 branches in Bosnia and Herzegovina with headquarters located in the capital city of Sarajevo. With the support of its shareholders and by utilizing its staff’s knowledge and resourcefulness, BBI each year organizes the Sarajevo Business Forum. According to observations of many analysts, this important event was declared a historical and the first class economic event in the modern history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Therefore we are honoured to be a part of it.
SBF moved the frontiers and understanding of the concept of investment conference. BBI is the only bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina that established its own business club (BBI VIP Business Club) boasting membership by some of the most successful companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina. NEBO is part of this business club. By adapting innovative approach to doing business BBI created the link between local Bosnian companies and financial institutions and corporations from the Gulf region (see picture below). BBI VIP Business Club thus provides new opportunities for Bosnian companies, by facilitating access to new markets and attracting new investments into Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In time of recession BBI bank has been one of the banks least affected by the global financial crisis and in spite of it, its business activities registered positive growth. In previous business years BBI is recording best results since its inception. BBI is education-oriented as each year it organizes seminars and trainings for its employees and provides scholarships for students.
The success of BBI Bank and its management were recognized with numerous awards. For example, Amer Bukvic, CEO of BBI, was listed among the TOP 50 Global Leaders of the Islamic Economy for 2018 and has also been included two years in a row on the “Islamica 500” list of the most successful individuals in the Islamic economy in the world. BBI received “Golden Bank” award in October 2017 from Bosnia’s banking magazine “BH Banks” as a result of analysis of the Bosnian banking sector’s key performing indicators and ranking of the country’s banks. They also received a Global Islamic Finance award for leadership and islamic finances, together with the chairman of presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Izetbegovic, Grand Mufti of BiH Kavazovic and Dr. Ramic, see picture below.
These kind of rewards in the finance world of BBI shows how important this market is. How did this market grow? Together with her neighbour countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina has undergone a major economic transition over the past 25 years, transforming from a socialist to a market-based economy. The transition has however been particularly uneven and more complicated than in the rest of Emerging Europe due to the turbulent times during the war in the 1990s. Afterwards, the period up to global economic crisis was in most cases dynamic, in which the economy of BiH recovered and reached the pre-war levels of GDP. Global economic crisis has negatively affected inflow of foreign direct investments. Furthermore, lower demand from the most important trade partners in the EU, negatively affected the level of exports. However, due to better EU economic conditions and the decreased effects of the international financial crisis the economy started growing faster since 2015 than in the previous years. Most of the Southeast European countries are expected to maintain solid, largely domestic-demand-driven growth, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina is growing continuously.
In summary, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a lot to offer, and BBI is focussing on many different fields from a finance point of view. In their upcoming event, Sarajevo Business Forum, these business opportunities will be elaborated! We hope to gain many insights into the possibilities of doing business in BiH, which we will inform you all about in our next blog!