Finished projects

SME Serbia 2030: SME 100 Expo – Conference-exhibition on the contribution of Serbian SMEs to sustainable development and further opportunities

The event SME Serbia 2030: SME100 Expo was held on June 1, 2022 in MIND Park in Kragujevac, with the aim of highlighting the development potential of the domestic economy embodied in carefully selected MSP100, leading in Serbia and small and medium by international standards. This event was an opportunity to empower and inspire each other, talk and connect, and launch initiatives that will support the development of SMEs and direct their strength towards the achievement of goals for the whole society.

First of all, we take this opportunity to warmly thank the Ambassador of Germany, Thomas Schieb, as well as the Ambassador of Switzerland, Urs Schmid, who came to Kragujevac to see and open the exhibition with words of encouragement for the effort to gather and hear the voice of leading SMEs.

Furthermore, you can watch a video of panel 1 on YouTube (slightly truncated, due to technical problems at the very beginning), where the participants pointed out that “hidden champions” play an extremely important role in the development of a powerful industrial country such as Germany, and that it is important to hear about hidden champions, not to remain hidden, because in that way increase the interest of young people in employment outside large urban agglomerations – where Champions are more frequent employers. We have also heard that in Ireland, a country known for its success in its efforts to attract quality foreign investors, there is also a separate government agency dedicated to the development of SMEs, and their internationalization. Finally, we heard that the hidden champions in Slovenia organized themselves in the “Slovenian business club”, and thus achieved that their word is heard very clearly and loudly when making public policies.

Then, at three round tables (which were hard to break for lunch!), a list of proposed initiatives was discussed, which you can still find on the next link. You can also find information about SME 100 at this link.

In the second, final panel, we heard that there are already some reform efforts moving in the direction of the proposed initiatives. As the most interesting, we single out the words of Mr. Chadez, the president of the PKS, who believes that the time has come to establish a truly independent and strategically positioned development bank in Serbia. He also announced greater efforts to adapt teacher profiles in Serbia to the needs of the economy. From Mr. Miljan Ždrale, EBRD Director for Southeast and Central Europe, we heard that it is really an anomaly that Serbia does not support export guarantees in any way, as well as the importance and possibilities of further development of capital markets that provide far more opportunities in neighboring countries. financing its SMEs. From the Assistant Minister Mr. Obradović, we have heard how important it is for the economy to propose very concrete proposals, as well as that there is a site “Entrepreneurship” which can now be used to inform about everything that the state is doing to support SMEs.

Finally, the event ended with a very inspiring panel – a conversation that our celebrated journalist Jelena Zorić had with Rade Šerbedžija and Dragan Bjelogrlić (who do not need a presentation) about how film and culture can go hand in hand with entrepreneurship. You can take a look at the site in the gallery and we will continue to publish the materials from the conference on CEVES channels

Once again, we owe our gratitude to the Sustainable Development for All Platform implemented by GIZ with the support of the Swiss and German governments, without which this event would not be possible, as well as to MIND Park for recognizing the idea and believing in it from the beginning. . We are also grateful to the Embassy of Slovenia in Belgrade for additional support and media partners: NIN, Nova Ekonomija, E-Kapija, Diplomacy & Commerce.


You can find SME 100 initiatives here. 

For more information, you can visit the MSP 100 official website.

You can see videos of the conference panels on our YouTube channel.

Private Sector Development

Partner: GIZ

In cooperation with GIZ, CEVES is conducting a preparatory project for establishment of SME Observatory – that would focus on more in-depth analysis of SME business climate and market intelligence.

It is expected that SME observatory can enhance Serbia’s sustainable economic development by producing knowledge and regular information that will substantially enhance:

  • The Government’s capacity to formulate well targeted growth-promoting sectoral and macroeconomic policies;
  • The quality of the SME sector’s business decision-making.

In addition, by creating a shared space of information, the Institute will:

  • Promote and enhance the quality of public-private dialogue
  • Build connections and trust among SMEs, ultimately promoting much needed economic integration.

Serbia, as a slowly recovery economy, has lot to gain from fostering linkages, information sharing and collaboration between firms, than usually expected. In Serbia, SMEs are of great importance, because in many ways they serve to preserve and develop islands of productive capacity that are not accessible to large and foreign investors and would otherwise be simply disappearing. However, characteristic to the recovery is that firms often tend to develop in isolation from one another. We observe almost no territorial clustering and limited integration/collaboration among firms. Therefore, the goal of SME Observatory is to enhance Serbia’s potential for sustainable economic growth of SME business sector by producing knowledge, making connections and providing regular public information.

Uncovering Regional Patterns: Towards More Dynamic, Inclusive and Equitable Regional Growth

Partner: UNDP Serbia

The overall goal of the proposed project is to contribute to Serbia’s development efforts by providing analytical information on economic structures, stakeholders and institutional players as well as to suggest some immediate measures that could be taken to accelerate growth, and ensure that it is more inclusive and regionally equitable. The beneficiaries of this would be Serbia’s citizens, particularly those living in territories that are lagging behind in terms of employment and overall levels of development.
More specifically, we aim to produce two kinds of practical knowledge that ultimately aim to provide suggestions for specific intervention measures that can be undertaken either by policy-makers or development partners: (a) about the economic structures in certain areas of the country, which can serve as the basis for designing development interventions tailored to their needs; (b) an overview of the current framework for territorial governance in Serbia – not only the de jure, but even more the de facto one – because understanding this is necessary in order to be able to define who is in the best position to undertake which policy measures. We will also make suggestions for smaller, incremental changes that can be made in order to improve the framework for policy interventions.


Living in European Serbia – Illustration, quantification and promotion of citisens’ benefits from the implementation of policies harmonized with EU standards

Partner: Fondation for Open Sociaty

The goal of the project is to contribute to the implementation of policies that are in alignment with EU standards, through motivating citizens to support the process of Eurointegration more intensively and by encouraging decision-makers to implement policies more consistently, and to pay more attention to contributing to meeting the key needs of citizens. Through continuous communication with decision-makers, CSOs, and citizens, through the Convent, consultative meetings and “online” dissemination, the project will quantify, and then illustrate and promote the concrete benefits that citizens can achieve through the genuine implementation of reforms. In particular, this relates to the domain of socio-economic policies, which are generally not harmonized with the EU, but are in the domain of national competencies – and therefore often it is not clear enough how their effect depends on reforms related to Eurointegration.


Alignment with EU Competition policy – raising awareness on potential benefits and strengthening capacity of key stakeholders in the area of state aid

Partner: The Balkan Trust for Democracy

The overall goal is to contribute to the democratic consolidation and institutional reforms in Serbia by contributing to Serbia’s overall alignment with the European Union’s competition policy. It is aimed that progress manifests itself in the advancement of the Chapter 8 negotiation process so that Serbia’s negotiation position is ready a year from the beginning of the project. However, the democratic consolidation and institutional strengthening will be accomplished by the strengthening of the institutions in charge of protecting and promoting competition and of CSOs to call them to account. This, in turn, will be accomplished above all by creating an environment in which broad stakeholders have a greater understanding of how EU Competition policies benefit consumers and how they promote the development of the economy. This understanding, in turn, improves stakeholder engagement and both the support they offer to relevant institutions (above all the Commission for State Aid Control) but also their capability to call them to account.


Using SDG to Reposition Social Science Research: A Pilot Project

Partner: HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation 

The project is an interdisciplinary and participative bottom up approach to understanding at least some aspects of the key factors underlying Serbia’s greatest development challenges – how competitiveness policies can serve to generate quality jobs and reach those parts of the country (and its population) that are most falling behind.

The Specific Objective was to create a framework for knowledge-policy system stakeholder’s interaction among Serbia’s development researchers and practitioners, which will facilitate their engagement in a public debate / participatory process advancing the understanding and policies that can accelerate the accomplishment of economic, social and human development along more than one SDG dimension. One of the key project’s phases refers to organization of stakeholder dialogue through consultative round tables/workshops to identify key issues in defining key competitiveness – human development linkages, needs for further research to identify drivers of positive change and how they can be measured.

For this dialog, CEVES prepared a study “Real Sector Performance and Competitiveness Some Stylized Facts and Open Questions (Serbia 2009-2016)”.

Call for Project Proposals


Development Potentials Index

The Development Potentials Index (DPI) is an annual publication which analyzes 114 sectors within the Serbian manufacturing industry and ranks them according to their development potential.

The objective of presenting the annual DPI reflects the need to get to know the economy that surrounds us, especially its real sector. We often hear from the media about the achieved economic growth based on general trends of GDP, but without understanding who makes up this growth, who created it and who has the power to build it in the future. Thus, the DPI aims to better portray the state of the economy, respecting all of its entities and potentials, with the objective to recognize the sectors we should build the future growth on.

At the very beginning, it is necessary to point out one of the basic principles: Economic growth should be built on the sectors that have the development potential. These are primarily the sectors that are made up of competitive companies, i.e. the companies that are capable of recognizing opportunities to create competitive products, to add value, to be competitive on both domestic and foreign markets, to have positive spillover effects on the rest of the economy, etc. One of the main conclusions is that it is companies which should be brought into focus, as dynamic growth of the economy should be based on the very companies that have the greatest development potential.

In order to properly identify leaders, the DPI starts from the bird’s eye view, but soon moves to deeper levels, looking at individual companies operating in the Serbian economy. In particular, it looks at bona fide companies, i.e. the ones that regularly submit financial reports and whose financial reports are meaningful. In total, there were 80,000 such companies in the latest report, which we allocated to 114 different sectors. Sectors were analyzed based on all the firms operating in them, particularly on the results these firms recorded on domestic and on 110 foreign markets, within the period of six years after the crisis (as of 2014). Among the leaders, i.e. the sectors which showed the greatest agility, particularly outstanding were the sectors where Serbia has a strong domestic resource base – agribusiness and wood processing industry (especially the segments of these sectors that add greater value, such as wooden furniture, processed fruits and vegetables, and the like). Besides them, sectors of mechanical industry, metal industry, transport industry, rubber and plastic industry, as well as certain segments of textile industry, stood out as well. In order to fully utilize the potential of all of these sectors, we cannot leave them to develop on its own. Moreover, support measures should not be universal. Namely, some of the prosperous sectors are the very basic ones, such as fruits and vegetables, while the other ones are much more complex, such as production of medical instruments or food processing machinery. All of these sectors are very heterogeneous, so it is necessary to take into account their specific needs and problems they are facing. Therefore, the needed policies should be tailor-made, taking into account the specificities of each sector and drawing out the most of the potential.

Development Potentials Index of Tradable Sectors in Serbia

Serbia’s Real Sector Performance: Exhibited Competitiveness by Size, Industry and Region

The Project “Serbia’s Real Sector Performance: Exhibited Competitiveness by Size, Industry and Region” is funded by USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project (SLDP) and represents a valuable Research Asset for Improving SME and Competitiveness Policy in Serbia, developed under the SLDP Project. The Project duration was from March 2014 until January 2015. This Project aimed to improve the targeting of employment generation, competitiveness enhancement and local development interventions in Serbia by improving the information base tools on which such interventions rely. It described the performance and growth potential of the most relevant business sectors in Serbia over the period from 2005 and 2013, pointing to the likely key factors that determine their success.

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SME Growth Opportunities and How Policies and Banks miss them

The Project “SME Growth Opportunities and How Policies and Banks miss them” is funded by USAID Business Enabling Project. The Project duration was from July 2013 until October 2014. The purpose of this project is to motivate banks and other stakeholders to search for procedures and financing modalities more suitable to the SME market segment, than are current bank practices, by presenting strong evidence of missed opportunities with current practice. The purpose of the grant is to raise bank awareness that current bank credit practices miss opportunities for generating bank profit and enhancing SME growth, which will be achieved by conducting work on SME market segment and outreach activities with banks. Therefore, we organized two roundtables at National Bank of Serbia. The first on 19th of June 2014 and the second one on 7th of October 2014.

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