The First Debt Advisory Conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The first "Conference on Debt Counselling” in Bosnia and Herzegovina was held in Sarajevo on 21 April 2016. It was organised by the "U Plusu" Association for Responsible Personal Finance Management in cooperation with the IFC, SECO and the Bosnia and Herzegovina EFSE Development Facility. The aim of the conference was to present results and experiences with debt counselling in BiH and the outcome of the transfer of such services to municipalities, as well as to present the Manual for Debt Advisory; this is the very first document that deals with the subject in BiH, and it is the product of the EFSE´s deep engagement in the project together with the IFC and SECO. Around 100 representatives of the BiH central bank, municipalities, the financial sector and the international community attended the conference. <br/>The conference was opened by the Vice Governor Ms Ernadina Bajrovic. A few introductory remarks were given by Ms Mejra JuzbaÅ¡ić from Finance in Motion GmbH, the advisor for EFSE, together with IFC and SECO.  <br/>Two key messages were presented at the conference:<br/>1. The crucial importance of financial literacy as a precondition for higher financial inclusion and stronger financial sectors <br/>2. The success of the current project on debt counselling and the necessity to continue with the project and expand the services to entrepreneurs and youth.<br/>Further takeaways are:<br/>• The importance of the "local" approach: Service needs to be close to citizens. In this respect, the role of local municipalities has been vital for overall success of the project. Another important feature that was pointed out was the impartiality of municipalities since they are direct stakeholders in the financial market.<br/>• Free service is very important.<br/>• The standardized approach throughout the country: Although each municipality deals with different levels of indebtedness of its citizens, each municipality has emphasised the importance of the same training, mentoring, tools and support they have received or are receiving.<br/>• Coordination and cooperation between different government levels and different institutions.

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