Published May 24, 2022
UB’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to attract global talent, the latest a group of 15 young entrepreneurs from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) who recently took part in a three-week boot camp at UB as part of the BOLD Fellowship program.
The BOLD Fellowship is an entrepreneurship development program for young aspiring entrepreneurs from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main objectives of program are to develop new skillsets, leadership skills, create meaningful connections and nurture role models for the next generation of Bosnian entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurship enriches lives and offers much-needed solutions to social and economic challenges facing emerging nations,” says Bob Neubert, director of entrepreneurship academic programs in the School of Management.
“Entrepreneurs are known for their resilience and ingenuity, but they need support in countries where entrepreneurship has historically been discouraged. I am grateful that UB’s entrepreneurship program can play a vital role in developing global entrepreneurship,” Neubert says.
The UB program was developed by Network 20/20, a New York City-based international affairs and impact-driven organization, with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
UB is a key partner with the BOLD Fellowship, providing fellows with a unique opportunity to learn with leading faculty members and creating engagement opportunities with the UB and greater Buffalo community, according to UB administrators guiding the program.
While in Buffalo, the fellows engaged with UB faculty and staff, including Neubert; lead instructor Celine Krzan, clinical instructor, Department of Operations Management and Strategy; David Thiemecke, startup client manager, Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships; and Dorothy Siaw-Asamoah, clinical assistant professor and faculty director of global programs, Department of Organization and Human Resources.
They also worked through the Experiential Learning Network’s digital badge process, leveraging their Buffalo experience to further develop their own initiatives while helping to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem back in BiH.
“Through global collaboration, everyone benefits,” says Mara Huber, founding director of the Experiential Learning Network, who helped to bring the fellows program to UB. Huber says she’s excited to see experiential learning applied to this important vision and the emerging connections between UB students and the Bosnian fellows.
“As the fellows build capacity around their own ventures and the emerging ecosystem in BiH, UB students can engage through collaborative projects and digital badges,” Huber says.
In addition to the rigorous boot camp, the fellows were immersed in the vibrant Buffalo startup scene, including visiting the M&T Tech Hub, 43 North, Buffalo Angels, TReC Niagara incubator, UB’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, UB’s New York State Center for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and other dynamic partners.
Through building and refining their business ideas, the fellows are getting ready to launch their tech-based ventures in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Krzan says. They have also been sharing their experiences and insights with UB students eager to engage and build their own global networks.
The fellows agree the networking and instruction they received from UB has enhanced their chances of success.
“Even though Bosnia’s startup ecosystem is in its early stages, and we are still looking for ways and opportunities to scale,” says fellow Ena Kapetanovic, “there are several prerequisites that can play an important role in a transition to a more sustainable and innovative economy.”
“One of the vital components of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ecosystem is its human capital with a hard-working and tech-savvy youth who are eager to succeed regardless of the challenges,” adds fellow Amina Mahmutagic.
Interest in the BOLD program is growing. UB plans to bring additional cohorts from nearby countries and regions. Filip Sasic, managing director of Southeast Europe for Network 20/20 and project lead, hopes this is only the beginning of the entrepreneurial endeavors that will lead to new ventures and economic impact in Bosnia.
“There is an opportunity to scale the program regionally to leverage entrepreneurship as a catalyst for positive change and collaboration between aspiring entrepreneurs from countries across the region,” Sasic says.