Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) are important contributors to an economy. This is particularly true in the pre-accession economies of the Western Balkans and Turkey where SMEs contribute close to three-quarters of employment and around 60 per cent of value added. However, their potential remains largely untapped: SMEs are under-represented in international trade and firm-level productivity is significantly below EU standards.
The Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility SME Forum (WB EDIF SME Forum) will open with the launch of the SME Policy Index: Western Balkans and Turkey 2019, setting the stage for an in-depth discussion on the opportunities and challenges in the SME business environment.
This will be followed by an interactive panel session, during which SMEs can share their experiences under WB EDIF as well as exchange lessons learned and best practices on their road to success.
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President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia
Marko Čadež is President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS), a Member of the Board of Directors of EUROCHAMBRES from among the non-EU countries, and President of the Managing Board of the Western Balkan 6 Chamber Investment Forum.
He was appointed to the position of the CCIS President for the first time in December 2014, from the position of Vice President in charge of the chamber system modernization, and Director of the CCIS Representative Offices in Germany and Austria. In June 2017, the CCIS Assembly entrusted him with a new five-year term of office. He is a Member of the Economic Council of the Development Agency of Serbia. He executed the office of the President of the Managing Board of the Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA).
CEO, APM Shpk
Altin Fuga has been the General Manager of APM since 2012. APM is one of the leading local manufacturers of fabricated metal products in Albania, serving both domestic and foreign markets. Prior to this Altin was a Project Manager and Site Manager for different private companies in Albania. Notably, Altin joined Alb-Star, a leading engineering company in Albania, as a Site Engineer for various projects implemented for Bankers Petroleum. He was promoted to Project Manager and then to Director of Industrial Projects.
Altin graduated from the Polytechnic University of Tirana in 2003 with a degree in Civil Engineering and is a member of the Albanian Association of Civil Engineers.
Vice President, Policy & Partnerships, EBRD
Pierre Heilbronn is EBRD Vice President, Policy and Partnerships. He is a member of the EBRD’s Executive Committee leading on the Bank’s economic, policy and reform agenda, managing bilateral and multilateral donor partnerships and ensuring an inclusive engagement of civil society.
Before joining the EBRD in 2016, Pierre was Deputy Chief of Staff for France’s Minister of Economy and Finance. He also previously served as the European Adviser to the French Prime Minister and was acting General Secretary for European Affairs.
He is a graduate of Institut d’ Études Politiques de Paris and the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA), holds a Master of Economics (Cambridge University) and a Master of European Studies (College of Europe, Bruges).
Department Director, Head of Mandate Management Debt, European Investment Fund
Marco is a Director at the European Investment Fund (EIF) heading the Department responsible for the management of mandates dedicated to guarantee products. The Department manages more than 50 mandates across the EU, Accession and Neighbouring Countries.
Over his tenure at EIF, Marco has developed comprehensive expertise ranging from Legal (Deputy General Counsel), to Regional Business Development (Head of Western and Southern Europe) to Portfolio Guarantees Implementation (Head of Regional Mandates). In this context, he has been directly involved in a large range of business activities including portfolio guarantees, private equity investments and microfinance.
Prior to joining EIF, Marco worked in private practice for approximately 10 years, advising on corporate finance transactions.
Deputy Director General of DG NEAR, European Commission, DG NEAR
Katarína Mathernová is Deputy Director General of DG NEAR, the Directorate General for Neighbourhood & Enlargement Negotiations. Between 2007-2010, she served as Deputy Director General in DG Regional Policy.
Katarína has held senior management and advisory posts at the European Commission, the World Bank and in the reform government in Slovakia, where she was Chief Institutional and Policy Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs.
She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Comenius University in Bratislava, a Masters of Law from the University of Michigan, and is a member of the New York Bar. Her distinctions include the award Slovak Woman of the Year in 2000 and the Pro Bono Human Rights award in 1993 from the International Human Rights Law Group.
Director, European Training Foundation
Cesare Onestini took up the post of Director of the European Training Foundation in September 2017.
He joined the European Commission in 1995, working for six years in education and training policy before serving in a variety of roles in energy, trade, the Secretariat General and external relations, where he was Head of Political and Security Council Affairs in the EU Delegation to the United Nations in New York. Mr Onestini joined the European External Action Service in 2010, playing a key role in setting the service up, as advisor to the Chief Operating Officer and Head of the Corporate Board Secretariat, before his appointment as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to India and Bhutan, where he served for three years.
Associate Director, ASB Regional Head, EBRD - Belgrade
Biljana Šćekić is the Regional Head for Western Balkans (Advisory), SME Finance & Development at the EBRD. In this capacity, Biljana is in charge of advisory support to SMEs in six Western Balkans countries. Prior to this, Biljana served as Montenegro’s Deputy Minister of Finance for Tax and Customs Systems, Financing Municipalities, and Accounting and Auditing. She was also the EU Negotiator for Montenegro, leading negotiations for five EU Chapters. Before joining the EBRD, Biljana was Director General for Economic Diplomacy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration.
Biljana holds a MA in Business and Corporate Communication from City University of New York and a BA in Economics from the University of Montenegro.
Director, OECD Global Secretariat, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD
Mr. Andreas Schaal is the Director of OECD Global Relations. From 2013 to 2016, he served the organisation as the Head of the Sherpa Office and the Global Governance Unit and between 2013-2018 as the G20 Sous Sherpa. In these roles, he has worked with the OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to advance OECD contributions to key pillars of the global governance architecture, such as the G20, G7, APEC and the Deauville Partnership supporting Transition Countries in the MENA Region.
Mr. Schaal, a German national, holds a Masters in Public Policy and Public Management from the University of Konstanz, Germany.
Board Member, Sparkasse Bank dd BiH
Amir Softić is CRO and CFO at Sparkasse Bank Bosnia and Herzegovina with more than 20 years of experience in the banking sector, primarily in the risk management area. He graduated his masters study at the University of Sarajevo and is currently preparing a PhD dissertation on the topic: ‘’EU banking regulation and prevention of financial shocks in Bosnia and Herzegovina’’. During his CRO career he was in charge of the implementation of a comprehensive risk remediation program and new banking regulations.
Parallel to his ordinary job, for over four years, Amir was engaged as a guest lecturer at the Banking Academy of School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo.
Currently, he is a Chairman of the Professional Association of Risk Managers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Managing Director, SME Finance & Development, EBRD
Claudio Viezzoli joined the EBRD in 1992 as its first Head of Office in Tirana, Albania. In 1993, he joined the HQ Country Team covering corporate deals in Southeast Europe, the Caucasus and Ukraine and was the Bank’s coordinator for steel and non-ferrous metals. In 2003 he joined the Equity Team in Financial Institutions. One year later, in 2004, Mr Viezzoli was promoted to Director for the Western Balkans and, in 2009, assumed coordination for the Western Balkans, Serbia and Croatia for all regional facilities.
Prior to joining the EBRD, Mr Viezzoli worked in strategic consulting, where he served corporate client acquisitions for Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Claudio has a degree in Economics and Finance from Rome University and a M.Sc. in International Economics and Finance.
Director, External Communications, EBRD
Anthony Williams is Director, External Communications at the EBRD, where he is responsible for outreach to the media, including social media, and for the rich multimedia content that is delivered to the Bank’s many external audiences including donors.
He joined the EBRD in 2006 after a career in journalism spanning nearly three decades with the Reuters news agency. He was a foreign correspondent in Europe for many years and then held several positions in London, including Editor, UK and Ireland and Global News Editor, where he was head of operational news for all of Reuters Text, TV and Picture activities worldwide.
Deputy Chairman of Council of Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Trade & Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mirko Šarović is Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before 1990, he worked in Famos Sarajevo, Engine Factory Sarajevo and Unis Sarajevo for their economic systems. Then, Mr. Šarović began his public service career as Secretary of the Municipal Assembly of New Sarajevo, and later served as President of the Executive Board of the Municipality of New East Sarajevo and Mayor of East Sarajevo. In 1998, Mr. Šarović became Vice President of the Republic of Srpska and eventually President in 2000, and also served two terms as a member of National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska. Later, he acted as the Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and served as Chairman of the Presidency until April 2003.