Since Bosnia’s deceleration of independence in March 1992, two decades later there is little to be excited about the Bosnian economy. The independence led to a four-year armed conflict that saw over 150,000 people killed and over 2.2 million people displaced, which easily became Europe’s most devastating war since World War II. Since the war, the replacement of damaged infrastructure across the country remains slow and ongoing, but one major issue remains is the country’s unemployment rate which sits at an estimated 45 per cent – easily making Bosnia one of Europe’s poorest countries.
But there is one spot shining brightly in the town of Gorazde. Bekto Precisa factory is not only expanding to take on more work, but it also happens to employ 357 employees and is open for a full 24 hours and 352 days a year. The factory is responsible for making plastic parts for car lights for Porsche, BMW and Audi. It also manufactures parts for skis and street lamps, in a joint venture with German firm Hella.
Even though Bosnia suffers from a horrible economy, high unemployment rate and a dysfunctional government, you’d the surprised to know that town’s such as Gordazde, Tesanj, Sanski Most, Bijeljina and Visoko are responsible for manufacturing for some of Europe’s biggest companies. It only makes sense for countries such as Germany, Netherlands, France and Brittani to export some manufacturing elsewhere nearby to offset some costs and in turn increase the profits.
Even though the wages are only a fraction of those in any developed European country, the work is very much welcome, especially when the average monthly salary for a Bekto employee is €664 ($864), comfortably above the Bosnian norm of €421. But the important factory is that there’s work and no shortage of it either. Just recently the factory advertised 30 news jobs and in return received 3,000 applications. But the wages are not as low as in China for example, yet the quality and the delivery times are superb.
Prior to the war Bosnia used to the biggest exporter in former Yugoslavia. As a country it had a good education system that produced high quality working force. Bosnian diaspora continues to make strong gains all around world and many are doing well thank to strong work ethics that we gained back home or passed down. For example, Bosnia was one of the biggest producer of high voltage middle power switches that are in use for electrical distribution. That product was completely developed by University in Sarajevo and exported in many corners of the world. Most of military industry of then Yugoslavia was based in Bosnia, while the textile industry was one of the biggest employers in all of the country. Prior to the war and today, and in large thanks to rivers and coal mines, Bosnia was and still is an important energy producer. It also helps to have a huge reserves of drinking water and unpolluted nature.