A bag full of opportunities
Irma Krvavac, owner of the Sarajevo-based Freya Design, specialises in handbags with traditional Bosnian designs that are both practical and creative. Until just two years ago, however, Freya Design was a one-woman startup: Krvavac was designer, tailor, and business owner rolled into one. So when she heard about the EFSE Entrepreneurship Tournament being held in Sarajevo in November 2018, her combined sense of imagination and enterprise saw an opportunity not to miss.
Hosted by the EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy, the EFSE Entrepreneurship Tournament drew 22 startup founders and 220 attendees, investors, international financial institutions, and other industry players to support entrepreneurship in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The goal of the competition was to increase awareness of local entrepreneurship and provide concrete opportunities for emerging businesses to receive crucial support through financing and targeted mentoring.
As a competing entrepreneur, Krvavac rigorously prepared her pitch over a period of three months. She was supported in this endeavour by the Sarajevo Regional Development Agency, or SERDA, an on-the-ground partner of the EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy that specialises in training and mentoring new businesses. Krvavac had already completed an acceleration course with SERDA prior to the competition along with several of the other contestants; now, it was time to convince a jury of the high potential of Freya Design to be a valuable investment.
The competition was high. But to Krvavac’s delight, she was named a winner! Freya Design was awarded EUR 10,000 to invest into the business and 50 hours of mentoring. The funds enabled Krvavac to purchase an embroidery machine, which allowed her to ramp up production while reducing time and costs. She used the mentoring opportunity to visit Alma Ras, one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leading textile companies, where she was exposed to best practices and was able to network with industry professionals.
Krvavac’s entrepreneurial spirit is behind every bag sold at Freya Design. “Thanks to the guidance of a mentor, I am now able to turn my brand into a successful business,” she reflects. “I am very grateful to have been given these opportunities.”
The EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy focuses on empowering entrepreneurs to establish, maintain, and grow the local micro and small enterprises that form the backbone of income generation and employment in the regions targeted by the fund. With support from the Entrepreneurship Academy and its partners, Krvavac stitched together her flair for fashion and entrepreneurship to tailor her own future.