FACT SHEET: Workforce and Higher Access to Markets in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to a growing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that are adopting international standards to supply sophisticated European Union customers, yet the economy is still not generating enough jobs for its citizens.


Launched in June 2017, USAID's Workforce and Higher Access to Markets (WHAM) project stimulates job creation by advancing Bosnia and Herzegovina's trade integration with and expansion into EU and regional markets. USAID’s implementing partner for this five-year $6.5 million project is International Executive Service Corps (IESC).


Through this project, USAID improves the capacity and competitiveness of high-growth, exporting, and export-ready SMEs via cost-share grants for interventions in targeted sectors of metal and wood processing, ICT, and textiles/footwear. 

Its strategic approach capitalizes on market-driven opportunities that expand workforce skills and enterprise export capacity.  It then engages community actors—growth enterprises, business organizations, technical schools and/or training centers, regional and/or local governments—to implement interventions in accordance with labor market demands. 

WHAM has three key intervention objectives:


  • Improve the workforce: The project develops partnerships with the public and private sectors to share the cost of recruiting or retraining a labor force with adequate skills. Assistance may include providing relevant secondary schools with adequate equipment.
  • Increase market access: The project supports companies in the targeted sectors to identify and access new customers and markets. This may include supporting private and public-sector initiatives to enable BiH companies to attend major regional and international trade fairs.
  • Improve product quality and use of new technology: USAID assists companies in the targeted sectors by introducing quality management systems, technology upgrades, and necessary product/service certification required in target markets, such as EU standards and/or other relevant quality standards.

By the end of this project, WHAM aims to create 2,385 jobs, half of which are for youth and 30 percent of which are for women.  Additionally, WHAM will support the training of 1,400 individuals and support the creation or upgrade of at least two centers of excellence that will positively impact training needs in specific sectors.  

To date, WHAM has supported the creation of 1,959 of the new jobs planned.  Female participation is 31 percent and youth participation is 56 percent.  As a result of general WHAM support and trade fair attendance, companies reported 293 new transactions.  WHAM also supported companies in obtaining 64 product certifications.  Furthermore, sales results indicate a 19 percent increase in sales and 23 percent increase in exports. With active and new grants underway, WHAM is on the path to complete and surpass planned results.

Project Snapshot
Total Funding: $6.5 million
Project Duration: June 2017 – June 2022
Implementing Partner: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)


Last updated: October 13, 2021

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