SUPPORTING WESTERN BALKANS SMALL BUSINESS EXPORTS IN EUROPE AND BEYOND

Speeches Shim

April 2021 – Small and medium businesses in much of Europe and Eurasia struggle to grow beyond the domestic market.  The region’s markets alone cannot sustain companies’ growth, and they either plateau, or begin the difficult task of expanding internationally by pivoting their focus to exports, with little know-how.  

Family owned and operated Soko Gorica faced just that problem. They had become one of the leading soft drink producers in North Macedonia since their founding in 1994. Once they secured a stable share of the North Macedonia market, they had to pivot internationally if they wanted to continue to grow their business.

One grant recipient, Integrated Quality System (IQS), a leading food safety and quality control consulting firm in North Macedonia, is working with Soko Gorica and other small businesses in the Western Balkans to expand sales across borders by providing training on how to export to the EU and all the necessary support in the process to obtain required international certifications. As a result of this assistance Soko Gorica successfully increased their exports to the point that exports made up 95% of their 2020 income. Their annual production has reached more than 30 million individual products (single packed fruit drinks) in over 30 countries. For the company, international expansion is a key business strategy.

Soko Gorica’s collaboration with IQS thus far has led to the company achieving the ISO 22000:2018 standard certification, a certification representing the highest global marker of food processing safety, enabling them to expand into eight new markets. These new markets have provided long-term growth opportunities for Soko Gorica. Ms. Vesna Ljusic, a commercial manager at Soko Gorica, said “I am very pleased with this collaboration and the results it already produced, with new markets generating almost 10% of total sales in 2020. IQS is and will be one of our main partners in achieving our longer-term company mission”.

Soko Gorica is one of five companies in North Macedonia and Kosovo which have been able to gain international food safety standard certification with the help of IQS, and 11 other firms are working with them to do the same, so they, too, can expand their markets.

Even with the economic impact of COVID-19, small businesses from North Macedonia and Kosovo have become more resilient through their collaboration with USAID EDGE project and have continued to grow and expand. Two newly certified companies made investments of nearly $400,000 in production infrastructure and new equipment. Economic recovery from COVID-19 in the region will not be possible without future investments and expansions like this. Their success will increase overall growth, creating jobs and economic growth for the region.  

 

Issuing Country 
Date 
Friday, June 4, 2021 - 3:15pm

Last updated: June 04, 2021