Volume 14, No. 1
Spring 2011
Bosnians Have Reason to be
Bullish About the Future

Dragan Isaretovic
Zoran, a 38-year-old father of two children, expanded his family farm with the help of a microcredit loan. Fifteen years after the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, IOCC continues to offer microloans to vulnerable Bosnian families to enable them to begin or build small businesses. The program has provided more than 6,700 loans and directly helped over 20,000 people. (Photo credit: D. Isaretovic/IOCC)
Editor's note: More than fifteen years after the signing of the Dayton Agreement that ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, IOCC continues to offer microloans to vulnerable Bosnian families to enable them to begin or build small businesses. The loans are helping communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to recover by creating businesses and developing sustainable employment. With lending capital of $1.46 million, more than 6,700 loans worth over $12 million have been disbursed to support agriculture, service businesses, small grocery stores, bookshops, restaurants, and small-scale production. The loans have helped 20,000 people and created 1,028 new jobs.

Gradiska, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Zoran, a 38-year-old father of two teen-aged children, tried his hand at numerous jobs to support his family before he found his future right in his backyard. He performed hard physical labor as a construction worker and drove a truck for a transportation company. But the work he found was not reliable and – despite his hard efforts – his family was barely scraping by. Work as a laborer had no future.

Although he hadn't taken much interest in working in agriculture before, Zoran seized the opportunity to expand the small livestock production activity that his father maintained to provide for their family. After discussing the idea with his father, he decided to leave behind the manual labor he had been doing and commit himself to breeding cattle on his family's 25 acre farm.

Using the limited savings that he had, Zoran bought four young bulls and utilized a portion of the family farmland to produce fodder for the animals. The land his family had available allowed Zoran to control costs and avoid purchasing feed from other suppliers.

The new business venture was successful and quickly grew into a stable of ten young bulls. But as the number of animals expanded, Zoran lacked the machinery that would allow him to bring in the fodder he needed to sustain his operation.

Traditional banks wouldn't lend the money that a farmer with limited experience in a traditionally volatile, high-risk business needed in order to expand his business and fully utilize the land he had available. Meanwhile, the current size of his business wasn't sufficient to provide the cash he needed to purchase the machine.

Zoran, like many small entrepreneurs around the world, was stuck. He lacked the capital that would allow him to provide for his family.

Turning to "Zdravo", IOCC's long-term partner which implements the microcredit program in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zoran requested a loan to purchase the harvester he needed.

After checking the application data and working with Zoran to estimate his needs and potential, IOCC approved a loan payable over a year.

With additional funds that he was able to contribute to the transaction, Zoran was able to buy the harvester he needed. By increasing the capacity to produce his own animal feed, Zoran has reduced his costs and increased revenue. Since obtaining the new machinery, the loan that the banks would not make to Zoran has been paid on time.

Today, thanks to the increased capacity to harvest the fodder, Zoran and his family have 18 bulls and look forward to building the business to the farm's projected capacity of 24 bulls and the income they will produce to support the family.

What's more, the loan that he has repaid can now help other families who are looking to build for the future in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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In This Issue

Bosnians Have Reason to be Bullish About the Future

Message from the Executive Director

Saving Family Farms in Fire-Stricken Areas of Greece

Building for the Future in Rural Haiti

World's Newest Country to Receive Life-Saving Aid

An Orthodox Understanding of Acts of Mercy

Parish Reps Make A Difference!

Volunteer Highlight: Emily Iglendza

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