Meet Croatia's Female Entrepreneur
1. For our international readers who perhaps do not know you, quickly introduce yourself and what you do.
My name is Hermina Skular, 6 months ago I founded Green I organic Ltd., producer of organic aronia products grown on a family-owned farm. Aronia is known as a superfood for being rich in minerals and vitamins. We therefore wanted to offer customers a natural juice without sugars or sweeteners, preservatives and additives.
2. How did the business start, and what were the major obstacles and achievements along the way?
After many years of working in international companies in Zagreb, I decided to enter the world of entrepreneurship and try running my own company. I have always wanted to have a business on my own but it took time to actually make a decision. About the same time when I was thinking to leave the corporate world, our aronia plants came with a yield of 8 tonnes, and somebody needed to take care of the product placement. So I decided to support the family business and start something completely new. On the way to start up a new business, I found out that I needed knowledge in different areas (economy, finance sector, marketing, sales, fruit producing technology, etc.). Step by step, I have managed all of that but it is a difficult path. The challenge that we face is big competition in Croatia. We are therefore keen to find partners abroad to export our high-quality product. We have therefore prepared our product from the start for foreign markets by naming our brand “Green I”.
3. People have told me on many occasions that the perfect combination in life is to live in Croatia and to make your money abroad. Do you agree?
It depends on the business you are in. I can speak for myself and say that I am interested in placing my product abroad because the Croatian market is small and saturated. The living standard is higher abroad, and people are more conscious about healthy food and healthy habits.
4. Let's talk about the business climate in Croatia, which does not have the best reputation. Give us some positives and some negatives.
It is not easy to cope with a complicated and slow bureaucracy, high tax obligations, and other difficulties entrepreneurs might face. Every start is difficult but it is important not to lose faith and stay focused. When I started my business at the end of last year, I found platforms supporting entrepreneurs which I was very pleased to join. I think that this is a step forward of having a more positive business climate.
5. If there are three things which you could change to improve things dramatically, what would they be?
A better educational system, a change in mindset of people, faster administration, lower taxes, …
6. Your advice to foreign entrepreneurs interested in investing in Croatia? And to young local businessmen who want to try?
There is still lots of potential in Croatia and if they find the right niche to invest in, they could do a great job. They have to be prepared to be stuck for some time with the bureaucratic procedure but there are also many opportunities they can benefit from…
7. How do you think the business climate will look in 10 years in Croatia?
There are a lot of areas to be improved. So I do not expect dramatical changes but I certainly hope it will be better.
8. How has 2013 EU entry changed business in Croatia?
Products and services have become more available in Croatia. It is more convenient to reach out to businesses across Europe looking for partners.
9. Being an entrepreneur in Croatia is not easy. What are the additional challenges experienced by female entrepreneurs in your opinion?
I have always worked in mixed gender companies and enjoyed the same rights. There are more and more women entrepreneurs and also women who are highly positioned in the business world. Things have changed in Croatia and abroad. I never felt degraded for being a female. Anyway, professionals should be judged based on their skills, personality and abilities and not based on their gender.
10. If you knew now what you knew then, would you have decided to go ahead? What was good, what was bad, and what would you do differently next time?
I believe there is a reason for everything and everything is happening just at the right time. I was thinking about entrepreneurship many years ago but I obviously wasn’t ready to take that path. Every experience, good or bad, is a lesson learned. I am doing my best at the given moment. Sometimes it turns out to be a good decision, sometimes not but it is important to go ahead even if you failed. There is no way back and most people spend more time thinking about the past instead of the future.
Author: Paul Bradbury
Total News Croatia