A group of German business experts are setting their sights on increasing the country's economic ties with Macedonia through enhancing quality and competitiveness.
By Klaudija Lutovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 04/08/12
An expert works with a baker in Bulgaria. [German Senior Expert Service]
In an effort to increase the quality and competitiveness of companies in Macedonia, small- and medium-sized enterprises now have the opportunity to solicit advice from senior experts from the German Senior Expert Service.
The service is comprised of 9,000 experts from 50 different sectors -- including trade, chemistry, wood industry, textiles, energy, crafts, services, agriculture and the food industry.
The nonprofit organisation is headquartered in Bonn, with 14 offices in Germany and more than 140 representatives worldwide to maintain a network of senior experts.
These retired experts, mostly from Germany and other western European countries, are able to give advice to businesses in the region on how to improve production, how to enter the western European market and gain partners, how to make changes in the structure of a firm and how to enhance competitiveness.
Representatives of the German economy in Macedonia and the Macedonian-German Economic Association, which has been active in the Macedonian market for 12 years, aim to support German companies that are interested in the Macedonian market.
Germany is Macedonia’s largest trade partner; Macedonia exports goods worth 870m euros annually to Germany and imports goods worth 474m euros annually.
"This is an excellent opportunity to develop the Macedonian economy. We will make efforts to advise our members to apply and enter into agreements with [the service] and to intensify co-operation with them," Jove Brglevski, president of the Business Confederation of Macedonia office in Bitol, told SETimes.
Michael Schmitt, director of the German economy in Macedonia, said that the interest of Macedonian firms in the German market is growing.
A worker discusses his project with a service expert in Germany. [German Senior Expert Service]
"The goal is to come and give support to companies, especially to small and medium firms to become more competitive, to have better performance in the market and help in finding new business partners," he said.
One company in Macedonia that has had experience with the service experts is Motion Universe Company, a small business that produces computer games with 20 employees, located in Bitola.
The company contacted the service due to a need for advice on expanding into the EU and international markets.
"We applied and used the service twice with the same expert in marketing consulting [ones in 2011 and second time in 2012]. What started as a marketing consultancy also turned into a business strategy consultancy that helped us to focus and prosper," Motion Universe owner Nikola Tanchevski told SETimes.
By extending their outsourcing services, the company created and promoted several cross-platform / cross-media products. The expansion created several new positions for employment and opened new possibilities to join the international market.
"Expanding the market, strengthening the brands and building products that will sell with a good marketing strategy for us means more work and more revenue in term creating new possibilities for business and new work places in the company," Tanchevski said.
The project is also known in other countries in the region. Since 2002, service experts have participated in contracts in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.
Dragan Jankovic, director of the Serbian municipality of Indjija's Development Agency, said that this is a great opportunity to develop a free engagement of experts.
"The government of Germany directly supports the project. In more than 1,500 cases have provided support to companies worldwide restructuring of enterprises technical and technological advancement, promotion of exports and the introduction of standards and EU regulations, professional training of cadres," Jankovic said.