Living in one of the poorest countries in Europe isn’t easy. Even after three decades of reforms, we haven’t progressed much. Every 4th citizen of Serbia is at risk of poverty and almost 5% of the population lives in absolute poverty. Despite that, entrepreneurial people in the country are doing their best to live differently. “RIGHT TO WORK” I’ve always wanted to make shoes and do something related to footwear. I learned the craft from one of Belgrade’s artisanal shoemakers who worked at the Gavrila Principa street. That’s how I began. He was looking for an apprentice at the time. He was on the verge of poverty. He said that he would teach me the craft and in return, I paid off some of his debts. I began learning from him. He was a good craftsman, but he also gave me some bad advice in the beginning Contrary to my belief, he would say that some things are unnecessary but it was alright in the end. I pulled through. History of civilization shows us that entrepreneurship is very important for a society because it is the cornerstone of prosperity and development. Only the individual, with their vision with their savings with their risk-taking and their capital is capable of generating added value. No country can achieve that. History of socialism and communism shows us that. In the sixth grade, my uncle asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I immediately told him: I want to have something of my own and work for myself. Even as a child, I had a vision of what I wanted to be. When my sister and I were just little girls we would play with dolls and we would always be making something. We would sew.. We began thinking about how to earn some money we went to the US we were students at the time we went there and earned some money. When we came back, we bought the sewing machines. And that’s how it all started. We began by researching the market to see if our idea had a chance. In 2012, we decided to register our company and start our business. Today, I can’t walk through the town without seeing someone wearing our clothes and I am really happy about that. Especially, because I am seeing models that are 5 – 6 years old. That is the greatest proof of quality of our clothes. They are not falling apart after the first washing. Since the early 90s, our research, done at the Institute by professor Božić alongside my own research about female entrepreneurs that I’ve been doing since 2010 show a clear distinction between the two groups of entrepreneurs The first group are entrepreneurs out of chance and opportunity those that have seen their opportunity on the market and have a clear business idea and those are the successful entrepreneurs. On the other side, you have entrepreneurs out of necessity. They belong to groups unable to get a job for a prolonged period of time and, therefore, attempt to solve this problem through self-employment and entrepreneurship. I started making cheese quite accidentally. A cow arrived at my household on Chrismas Eve while everybody else was celebrating Christmas Eve and awaiting Christmas with their families I was being taught how to milk a cow. The cow arrived so that the calves would be able to drink natural milk. This is how we wanted to feed them, we didn’t want to give them anything artificial. After that came another cow and we had too much milk. At first, I started making the common types of cheese which I knew and which are relatively easy to make like sliced cheese, cheese for pies and such. Then my children had their say. Their aunt knew how to make rolled cheese and the children loved it, we all loved it my kids asked me to learn how to make it. I called the aunt and she taught me how to make it. She gave me the perfect recipe. She told me: “Now I’ve shown you the basics. Everything else is love. Either you love it, or you don’t, either you do it, or you don’t. There can be no entrepreneurship without the people with an idea and courage without people who are ready to be free. Freedom is the crucial concept in entrepreneurship. I don’t know… I just can’t imagine myself sitting in an office. I am my own boss and I feel truly fulfilled then I hold the final product of my work. Equally so when the customer is satisfied. It is really fulfilling although I am I pain when I have to part with what I’ve made. But, that’s just life. We have to live off of something. I’ve always wanted to have something of my own within my household. The fact that it turned out to be cheese production is quite accidental. I wanted to be there for my children. To watch them grow and develop. I wanted my work to be close to my home. That’s how I pictured it. And I was wondering how to achieve that. Because cows, they are a real hassle. Personally, I can’t understand women, people doing one job and staying in one place for their entire lives without making any progress I just can’t understand that. I can’t dedicate my whole life to making just one type of cheese and sell it to the same 10 customers. That’s simply not the point of my work. My biggest motivation comes from the fact that the girls are constantly coming back for more. They are recommending us to everyone. We don’t advertize at all. All of our customers came to us through recommendation. The other source of motivation comes from the fact, that despite many other new stores Novi Sad like the new “Promenada” we still have a lot of customers. Girls just come back and say: “We’re gonna go to our Coconut.” My first man has been wearing the shoes that I had made for over 30 years now. And each time people bring me the shoes that I’ve made to have them repaired, I am always full of joy. It’s almost as though my children came to visit after a long journey. It’s very important for me to teach the children the importance of buying domestic products That’s why I organize mozzarella making workshops for kids. The kids come and make mozzarella with their own little fingers. And then, they take it home. I even give them recipes for how to make it and what to put it on – sandwiches, pizzas… It’s a great ambition of mine to get the village women moving I want them to have something of their own. I want their day to be something other than just preparing lunch. I want them to understand that they are capable of much, much more. To see our Vojvodina, to see our Serbia to meet new people. When I employ somebody one day, I want to teach them everything I know. Absolutely everything. I want them to be by my side wherever I go. It’s not an easy choice to be an entrepreneur. There aren’t many periods in the history of Serbia when the system was inclined to support and encourage entrepreneurship It was usually quite the contrary entrepreneurship was systematically discouraged. There are no political freedoms without the economic freedoms of the individual. As long as the voters, citizens are dependent on the state to provide them with jobs and salaries the more people working for the state the more voters for the ruling party currently in power who don’t think freely. They decide under coercion. They are corrupt because they aren’t free. They have to vote for those in power. That’s why every government in Serbia wants to have as few economically independent and free individuals who are free to vote for their future they vote for life. Do you people realize that even on the day of my patron saint I have to get up early to milk the cows. Both in the morning and the evening. My guests can’t come earlier than 8 or 9 because I need the time to take care of myself, the milk and the cows. Even on New Year’s Eve, I have to milk the cow in the evening. I just can’t afford to have my make-up done professionally and go somewhere. We recently had a wedding and I had my hair done and the make up artist told me: “Let me do your make-up” I said: “How?!” Do you realize that I after you are done, I am going to the stable? I’ll have to put the cap and other protection. I have to wash my face after I am done, I have to take a bath. I have to look decent. Right? It’s a really demanding job. You have to be present for 24 hours every day, 365 days of the year. The history of entrepreneurship in Serbia after WW2 starts at the end of the 1980s when the law about companies was enacted. This law is usually incorrectly associated with the government of Ante Marković while it was actually enacted by the government of Branko Mikulić. Soon after that government fell and Ante Marković became the prime minister. He started serious economic reforms and, as such, started the transition from communism to capitalism. Unfortunately, that transition didn’t last long but for a short time, we had ideal conditions for the development of private business and entrepreneurship. With minimal savings that they had, revenue, or even loans from the family people were starting new small businesses everywhere fully aware that tomorrow they might go bankrupt. They sensed the need of the market after years of a closed economy and various shortages the market was hungry for everything. That’s why the largest part of those businesses consisted out of small convenience stores. The next significant wave of entrepreneurship were the economic reforms attempted by Zoran Đinđić. They were never finished due to a simple reason. The opponents of the reforms shot and killed the prime minister who was leading those reforms. After Zoran Đinđić was killed, everything fell back to as it was during the time before Ante Marković the Serbian version of communism in which we live today. It is always hard. Always on the edge. We were always suffering. Just like today. In 2015, the running government announced significant improvements in regards to the conditions for entrepreneurs. Five years later, the tax cuts for entrepreneurs are negligible and the tax policy remains largely the same. These facts are causing doubt about the true goal of the announced changes which today seem like unfulfilled promises. As far as the context is concerned, as far as the conditions are concerned as far as the support is concerned and, in the end, even subsidies our state, that is, our government is almost too eager to support entrepreneurs from abroad. It would rather subsidize an entrepreneur from Turkey then an entrepreneur from Serbia even if both of them wanted to start a textile factory in the south of the country. That shows us the existence of a great animosity towards the entrepreneur not only among the ruling political elite but also among common people. It’s the hate towards the entrepreneur, the boss, a rich boss Towards a person who employs other people and provides their salary while also providing for themselves and their family and contributing to the overall wealth creation in the country. The taxes are way too high while the market is still relatively poor but the taxes are way too high. In no time, just a few months you can stack up a huge debt which can, alongside the interest seriously endanger your life and your business. The expenses are way too high. I think that some of them should be abolished. For example, in the textile industry for each new material you get, you need a quality certificate. That is absurd. That same material was inspected when it was imported. Then it was inspected multiple times by the wholesaler and the intermediaries. It is absurd that the same material needs to be inspected 5 times with every inspection costing 5 or 6 thousand dinars. By law, I am limited to producing, processing or selling selling 200 litres of raw milk per week and process another 200 litres of milk into cheese per week. Strictly defined types of cheese. I am offended by that. I don’t know who made that decision. Who limited me and my capabilities?! Does that person know that just two decent cows can produce that much in a week? Trust me, for two decent cows I wouldn’t even be doing this every morning and evening. When it comes to entrepreneurship apart from the widely discussed free market strong legal regulation is very important as well. The state needs to protect entrepreneurs. We call that the rule of law and it’s in a very critical condition in Serbia. Our research indicates that the level of corruption is very high in Serbia that this is a type of system that allows the political elite to abuse the economic resources for their own bidding. The connections between the economic and the political elite are very strong. That is why it is very hard for a small entrepreneur to start their business and enter the market. There is no reason for Serbia to be a poor country. Entrepreneurship is a proven recipie for social and economic development. Serbian entrepreneurs are clear: They don’t want subsidies or additional government investments. They just want the government to create a context which doesn’t discourage private initiatives. The conditions for owning a private business in Serbia are, despite the rhetorical support from the government aren’t satisfactory. The dominant philosophy in the country is that it is best to work in the public sector and live a carefree existence. You do your 8 hours, it doesn’t matter how or how efficient and productive you were. And you’ll get some salary. It isn’t going to be much, but at least you don’t have to worry about a thing. It seems to me that the Serbian government of the late second decade of the 21st century prefers the state to do business rather than the private business owners who should be the key element of the economy. First of all, we pay more for the materials than the craftsmen in the West. Second, it’s a lot harder to import such things and the domestic industry doesn’t support crafts like mine. We can’t find shoelace, we can’t find shoe polish. Same goes for high-quality soles for shoes. We are importing everything and paying more than the craftsmen in the West. And they charge a lot more for their final product. We still compete, but the competition is never fair. It must be some skill inherent to us as people. I don’t know. If you didn’t have to pay contributions for every two workers you employ, I could employ another. Or I would increase the salary of the people I already employ. Because, unfortunately, the worker doesn’t understand what kind of expenses we have to endure. They only look at their salary. In the matter of fact, what we pay to the state shouldn’t even bother the worker but it severely limits us. If you had a grace period for every new worker for a year or two if the contributions were abolished or at least significantly reduced we would be able to see if we can afford that new worker. I don’t know why people fear so many things. Simply, it’s just people like you and me. You go, you ask, you make arrangements and do you best. They tell me: “Đuđa, you need to do this and that. Here’s what you can do and here’s what you can’t.” Respect the rules, but don’t limit me. Let me work. In Serbia, labour tax constitutes more than 60% of the net salary. Numerous research shows that high labour tax is one of the greatest obstacles for the development of entrepreneurship while causing unreported employment. Taxes and contributions for labour account for 600 billion dinars in the pockets of the state every year. This is by far the largest amount collected by a single tax. Although pompously announced, the tax cuts are insignificant. This year the government announced a 1% tax cut while raising the minimum wage for 10%.