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Bratislav Obradović | Vegetable farmer | Opportunity Bank Serbia, Serbia
"There is a proper way to grow tall tomato plants," says Bratislav Obradović. The farmer indicates a fragrant branch climbing a sturdy wire."Obviously the higher the plant grows, the more fruits it can produce. But it needs proper support in order to achieve its full potential."
Obradović could easily have been talking about himself as a business owner. With four greenhouses filled with robust tomato plants, the family farm runs a thriving wholesale trade throughout the year. And their success is due in no small part to the support they have received from Opportunity Bank Serbia (OBS), a partner institution of EFSE.
"After I lost my job in the oil industry, I needed to find a new direction," Obradović explains. He already had a piece of land a few kilometers outside of Belgrade and some training in agriculture, so growing vegetables seemed the natural choice. But the freshly established farmer needed more than just soil and skills; he needed capital. "The loan officer from OBS was so helpful," says the entrepreneur. "He encouraged me to invest in greenhouse production and assisted us through the whole loan process. I have nothing but praises for the bank."
What is more, Obradović and his wife were able to finance their new greenhouses using local currency. This is crucial for small enterprises like the Obradović farm: When businesses make their income in one currency but borrow in another, their cash flows can be hit hard by even small fluctuations in the exchange rate. EFSE has hedging instruments in place to absorb exchange rate risk, protecting small businesses by facilitating local currency loans through on-the-ground partners such as OBS.
That leaves Obradović with the peace of mind to focus on tomato plants. He adjusts a support wire and smiles. "Vegetable growing has helped me achieve financial security," he says. "And it is so satisfying to see the results of my own work."