A businesswoman takes over the organic market in fYR Macedonia

Entrepreneur

Zivka’s journey to the top started when she first had the simple but smart idea of tapping into the growing demand across the world for organic, additive-free food—a demand that was then still far from being met by the country’s suppliers. 

"We started from our kitchen table,” says Zivka. “Working with my daughter we experimented with different combinations of organic ingredients and recipes from the internet. One of our first successes was with our own variation of simple vegetarian crackers. Once we were confident that our products could sell, I applied to the Self-Employment Programme with our business idea.”

Highlights

  • Over 9 years, 25,000 people have applied for the programme. Almost 10,000 have undertaken the 30-hour training.
  • A total of 7,721 new businesses have been created following the programme.
  • 35 percent of the initiatives are run by women entrepreneurs and 31 percent by young people.
  • 70 percent of the companies created through the programme have remained active.
  • The national unemployment rate has gone down from over 37 percent in 2005 to 25.5 percent in the third quarter of 2015.

Zivka’s application was successful. She attended an intensive four-day training course as part of a UNDP-supported programme that has helped reduce the national unemployment rate from over 37 percent in 2005 to 25.5 percent in the third quarter of 2015. The programme’s top 100 companies now employ over 700 people.

 “It was only a short course but I’m still applying the lessons we learnt today,” she says.

Equipped with basic business knowledge and ever-greater confidence in her idea, Zivka started up the Aronija Healthy Food Company and used the 3,000 Euros she received as part of the programme to purchase various types of flour, nuts and moulds for producing the company’s first batches of vegetarian desserts.

The company’s initial success enabled Zivka to open her first shop in Veles, to hire new employees and to create a new brand, Biocosmos. With demand growing daily, Zivka decided to hand over the responsibilities of management to her daughter Aneta, who is now the driving force behind the business.

Today the company employs 24 full-time employees and is set for further growth as Zivka and Aneta embark on a new area for expansion—the production of gluten-free food.

“We’ve been keeping a close eye on the local health food market over the years,” Aneta explains, “and we’ve seen a strong and growing demand for good quality gluten-free food. We’ll soon be opening a new factory to produce gluten-free foods and are hoping to expand into other markets in the region,” says Aneta.

In 2015, Zivka was awarded the title of Best Female Entrepreneur in a ceremony to identify success stories from the self-employment programme.

Over the past nine years, 25,000 people from all over the country have applied for the programme and almost ten thousand have now undertaken the  30-hour training workshop Zivka attended.

A total of 7,721 new businesses have been created in the nine years since the programme was launched, 35 percent of which are run by women entrepreneurs and 31 percent by young people.  A remarkable 70 percent of the companies created through the programme have remained active, and many have expanded.