9 Reasons Why Bosnia and Herzegovina Might Be the Next Silicon Valley

by Kenan Nuhanovic 8,616 views5

No, that wasn’t a typo—the small, heart-shaped European country with beautiful scenery may soon also be known for its budding tech startup ecosystem. A while back we reviewed some of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leading startups for 2017—it’s only been a few months, and already a new lineup of regional tech players are revving up to launch in 2018.

Source: drawnhy97 / Freepik.

Due to its growing economy and highly educated population, Bosnia and Herzegovina has an especially strong workforce of professionals in IT and engineering fields. Programming jobs are on the rise and cybersecurity, VR, and mobile app offerings are the norm among local startups.

The following are the top 9 reasons why Bosnia and Herzegovina might just be the next Silicon Valley.

9. Low tax rates.

Source: photoroyalty / Freepik.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s corporate tax rate is only 10%, making it 3.5-4.7 times lower than in the United States. The country’s sales taxes (VAT) is at 17%.

8. High level of education.

Source: freepik.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to one of the most competitive universities in Europe and leading university in the region, the University of Sarajevo—and after adapting to the Bologna system of education, the country’s citizens now boast some of the highest education levels and rates of multilingualism on the continent. Starting from middle school, youth are taught at least 3 languages and computer/IT topics in science classes.

7. Government support for private businesses.

Source: freepik.

The local government supports private businesses, both financially and legally. Additionally, quasi-government entities such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development—funded by the EU, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Central European Initiative, the Balkan Region Special Fund, and the Netherlands, among others—provide resources supporting local businesses.

6. Quick and easy registration for private companies.

Source: jannoon028 / Freepik.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, registering a private business takes about seven weeks—the only requirement being one director/shareholder, not even a physical office is required. And the cost? A $11 dollar set up fee and and minimum capital in the amount of  $1.2 dollars.

5. Ample connections and accessibility options for other European destinations.

Source: freepik.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is connected to all the major cities in Europe by major roads, railways, and air transportation routes. The country has strong political ties with other EU nations as well as Russia, Turkey, and Indonesia, to name a few.

4. Free healthcare.

Source: freepik.

The country—like many others in the world—provides high quality healthcare free of charge to all Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens.

3. Low living expenses and cost of accommodations.

Source: ijeab / Freepik.

Low cost of living and accommodations is one of the country’s biggest draws—for example, an apartment in the city will run around $200 dollars a month, including water and electricity. An entrepreneur could live an active lifestyle on $500-550 dollars a month, covering food and entertainment as well.

2. A cost-effective workforce.

Source: snowing / Freepik.

Bootstrapped startups won’t have to break the bank to hire qualified employees—in Bosnia and Herzegovina, qualified professionals are highly affordable. General service jobs (e.g., waiters, cashiers) pay on average $200-300 dollars a month, while specialists such as programmers, engineers, doctors make $400 a month and up.

1. A surplus of highly educated, talented young professionals.

Source: javi_indy / Freepik.

Not only is talent affordable, but it’s also plentiful: the country has one of the highest number of highly educated candidates for hire in the Balkans. Most of these professionals come from fields like software engineering and computer science.

In short, if you’re an entrepreneur looking for an affordable European launching pad for your tech venture, Bosnia and Herzegovina may be right up your alley. With a low cost of living and deep pool of qualified talent, the country may soon be known as the Silicon Valley of the Balkans.

 

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Comments (5)

  1. Apparently Kenan has never been to Silicon Valley or started a business in Bosnia. This is so funny.

    And #1 is the best…country that has cca 450 graduating IT student annually cannot dream of silicon valley status.

  2. Dragi Kenane mene interesuje kad si ti zadnji put bio u Bosni? Da su nasa djeca pametna I skolovana je istina a koliko ih ima posao? Jesu bosanske granice otvorene za susjedne drzave zato nam omladina I ode. Nek si nam ziv I zdrav Kenane al se malo raspitaj o situaciji u Bosni pa onda pisi.

  3. Thanks for the article. Although I love my country of origin (Bosnia Herzegovina), I have to say that 50% of theese “facts” are definitively at least strange. High-quality healthcare, high-level of education, one of the best competative Universities in Europe? I whish.

    This is not to say to stay out of Bosnia, but to say that one needs to go in and invest while having a realistic picture. So, a better, and more realistic argument would be something like:
    (I know that a lot of) people there are smart, hard-working, and they definitively can compete with world companies (see e.g., Mistral). A combination of low-cost labour (seen from the EU level), young and hype population, an IT-oriented mindset, and a Western-like method of approaching a problem are something that you will not find a lot of places in the word.

  4. It would be nice for all of us in Bosnia if this is anywhere near true.
    I would review your reasons one by one:
    9) Low tax rates – It’s true that corporate income tax rate in B&H is 10%, but more important for potential employers is salary tax. Taxes and contributions are around 60% of net salary, which is among the highest in Europe.
    8) According to Webometrics rating, University of Sarajevo is 2002 in world rank, Tuzla 3548, Zenica 4202, Mostar 4314, Banja Luka 4834, East Sarajevo 5555. You say “leading university in the region”. For example: Zagreb 563, Split 1098, Rijeka 1600, Belgrade 568, Novi Sad 1215, Niš 1572, Kragujevac 1912, Skopje 1519, Sofia 931, Ljubljana 336, Maribor 1292.
    7) Government support of private business is not present. You can talk with any entrepreneur or SME business owner in Bosnia and Herzegovina to confirm you that.
    6) True – registration of private corporation is easy. But try to liquidate a company, it lasts forever and is very expensive.
    5) Railroad in Bosnia: Fastest train in Bosnia: Sarajevo – Zenica (70km) 1h 40 minutes. Highways in Bosnia 140km in total.
    To be finished…

  5. Continuing from previous comment
    4) Healthcare is not free – it’s paid by contributions from salary (mentioned in reason 9). Also, public healthcare is corrupted (ergo not free), slow and inefficient (for simple MRI scan of knee, for example, waiting list is around 4 months).
    3) 100% true.
    2) Please can you find me skilled programmer or engineer which work for 400$ net? I know many engineers in software and telecommunication business (non unemployed) and neither of them is working for less than 1500 KM (around 900$).
    1) Again, misleading, there are many unemployed highly educated persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but very few, if any, from the fields you mention.

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