CANSEE Canadian Serbian Business Association, Macedonia2025 and Restart (Bosnia and Herzegovina) hosted the first leg of an international start-up pitching competition for their national winners, with the financial support of the Western Balkans Fund.

All three NGOs hosted an annual business development program called the LEADER Project with the help of MBA students from Ivey Business School from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Over the course of two weeks, participants learned how to develop and pitch their business plans. This year, for the first time, the top three participants from each of the three countries will present their startup ideas in Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Skopje. Today at the first leg in Belgrade, we heard startup ideas that included: an innovative hub for foodpreneurs, an online dating app, an online booking platform for regional food tourism, wearable jewelry that tracks six health indicators, an environmentally friendly fertilizer etc.

This new initiative will give the winning participants the priceless opportunity to present their startup idea in front of potential investors from Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia and from around the world. Further, and if not more importantly, the initiative will help foster new links and networks between the young participants, as well as between investors and business people from the three countries.

The future of the Balkans is business. The ultimate winner will be awarded with funding and the opportunity to present their startup idea in front of over 400 people at the annual Macedonia2025 Summit. The next leg to be held in Sarajevo on August 9, 2018, and the third one in Skopje on November 7, 2018.

CANSEE, Macedonia2025, and Restart are NGOs that were founded to promote economic development in Serbia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Hercegovina respectively. The Western Balkans Fund is an inter-governmental grant giving organization that promotes greater regional cooperation, people to people contacts in the Western Balkans, and its integration with the European Union.