Vienna start-up BioBalkan secures jobs in one of the poorest regions in Europe

Successful development of Southern Serbian cooperation

For a year now, Viennese start-up company BioBalkan has been selling spreads like Ajvar. The recipe for success is simple: high-quality organic ingredients and loving handmade processing. At start-up competitions, the jury greedily spoons every glass empty, reports Tech & Nature. "That the products taste good is the most important thing," says Marijana Miljković, who set up the young company together with Hans-Jörg Hummer and Christopher Opancar. But good taste is not the only thing, because BioBalkan is also a social business and supports people in one of the poorest regions of Europe.

Social Business in Southern Serbia
In the southern Serbian community of Lebane, the average income is about 130 euros per month. Those who can, move away and look for work elsewhere - but for single mothers, women with disabilities or long-term unemployed women, this is usually not an option. The Radanska Ruža social enterprise has a place for them. The small business processes fruit and vegetables into spreads and sells them, usually in Serbia. At least it was, until BioBalkan co-founder Christopher Opancar came across the small business. 50,000 glasses of Ajvar and other delicacies were filled last year in Radanska Ruža for the Viennese start-up.

The organic factory team / Picture: Balkan Express Handels GmbH

Switch to organic and year-round jobs
BioBalkan opens up the international market for the social enterprise, creates and secures jobs and also supports the company in its transition to organic farming. For the young Viennese company Radanska Ruža processes only organic fruit and vegetables, while products from conventional agriculture are produced for the domestic market. In order to change this, BioBalkan is now relying on a crowdfunding campaign to collect 20,000 euros.

On the one hand, the money will be used to finance the switch to organic farming, and on the other hand, it will be used to pre-finance the purchase of fruit and vegetables. With 2,000 euros per employee, enough fruit and vegetables can be bought and stored appropriately to ensure that jobs are available all year round - until now, Radanska Ruža has been a seasonal business. The money will be used to buy four to five tons of peppers, tomatoes, aubergines or berries in organic quality.

Founded together with Caritas
BioBalkan has been in existence as a project since 2016: Hans-Jörg Hummer and Christopher Opancar were both active in development cooperation in the region, their co-founder Marijana Miljković reported as a journalist from Balkan countries. The three founded the company in 2018 together with Caritas, which supports social businesses with Magdas - Gabriela Sonnleitner from the Hotel Magdas, known for the integration of refugees, supports the team.

New partners
In the coming years, BioBalkan plans to expand sales to Germany - so far, the products are mainly available in the company's own web shop and in selected bakeries or grocers. At the same time, the company also plans to support new partner companies in the Balkans - for example a hazelnut producer in Macedonia. In 2021, the founders expect to break even.

Source: Tech & Nature

For more information:
Balkan Express Handels GmbH
c/o Impact Hub Vienna
Lindengasse 56
A-1070 Wien
Tel: +43 676 9222898

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